Cheap Indian tablet project dissolving because of water -

The world's cheapest tablet, which has been pushed as part of an Indian government project, is floundering because a government agency thinks it should be soaked in water.

Accrording to MSN, companies will be invited to bid again to make the device after complaints of poor performance and problems rolling out a pilot model of the Aakash tablet.

It was thought the Aakash tablet would be an achievement of Indian frugal engineering which would end the digital divide in the country. The locally assembled machine has a cost price of around $50 and was to be sold to students by the government for $35.

But there are signs that things are not going well. Only 10,000 units have been shipped since October. DataWind, which makes the tablet, and a government research institute responsible for it are at each other's throats after test users moaned that the processor was too slow, the battery life short and the resistive touch screen hard to use.

The government's Human Resource Development Ministry answer is to seek partners to build the tablet which could result in DataWind being dropped.

Datawind was supposed to make 100,000 units for the government and it was likely it would make the additional million units for in the second phase of production.

But it seems that the project has attracted people who want to create a tablet with better specifications at the same or a lower price.

DataWind is a London based company. It told MSN that the Indian Institute of Technology changed the specifications late last year and now wanted a device that could meet U.S. military durability requirement for the same price.

DataWind CEO Suneet Singh said they wanted the device to take four inches an hour of sustained rain. He said that was silly and the project has been on hold since then.

DataWind says it is receiving tens of thousands of orders daily for a commercial version of the tablet with a built-in GPRS modem that is due to be launched this month for 2,999 rupees ($61).