PRICE WAR

The price war in India's tablet market just shifted to a higher gear. Bangalore-based Lakshmi Access Communications Systems (LACS) has announced a tablet at roughly Rs 4,500, upping the ante in a buzzing market that, over the last few weeks, has seen a line-up of low priced tablets.

Reliance Communications launched a tablet at Rs 12,999, and more recently Beetel Teletech announced ‘Magiq' for Rs 9,999. Taiwan-based MSI's Enjoy series is available in two variants, at Rs 13,999 and Rs 14,999. Android-based HCL ME Tablets starts at Rs 14,990.

“Given that the price point of some of these products is below Rs 15,000, the market is huge. Some of these players are looking to catch first time users with attractively priced 7-inch screen devices, hoping that the next logical upgrade will be the 10-inch device,” says tech expert Mr Kishore Bhargava.

LACS has launched different variants under the MAGNUM brand, but the showstopper clearly is the MAGNUM ‘Pepper', which at sub-Rs 5,000 significantly lowers the entry barrier for first time users. This entry level tablet comes with a 7-inch screen, 800 MHz processor, 4GB RAM, has a wi-fi connectivity (3G dongle connectivity) and runs Android 2.2.

The swankier ones can go up to about Rs 36,000. Interestingly, the fresh offensive in the Indian market comes on a day hardware major HP announced its worldwide decision to pull out of the tablet market.

LACS' MAGNUM tablets will be available early September. They will be sourced from China.

But market watchers say that a possible downside is that the low-cost product runs Android 2.2 and not Android Honeycomb, the new version of the mobile operating system designed for tablets. “The other problem is the 7-inch screen, which although portable, does not allow the same experience as, say, a 10-inch device. Also, an 800 MHz processor would mean a noticeable lag in videos,” says Mr Bhargava.

Tech columnist Mr Amit Agarwal feels that price aside, the success would hinge on just how “responsive” these devices are.

(This article was published on August 19, 2011)
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