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Tablets for all...
The Uttar Pradesh government is all set to roll out a big order for tablets for use by its various departments and senior staff and to students ahead of the general elections. And eyeing this big order of a near three million tablets is a host of computer giants in the business – Hewlett Packard, HCL Info Systems Ltd. and Acer India Pvt Ltd.

What is significant about this order is that the order of three million tablets is bigger than the Indian market for the same!  The tender is being managed by the UP Electronics Corporation. In its election manifesto the Samajwadi Party had promised to distribute tablets and laptops to school students.  Having won the assembly elections with a thumping majority, the SP wants to redeem its pledge.  And prepare for the general elections which it reckons will be held earlier than expected.  

With over three million tablets sold in India in 2012, the market is set to grow exponentially. Remember, UP alone is picking three million in 2013!

HP has already won the order for supplying 1.50 million laptops to the state government.  The order was placed in early January this year. The laptops were priced at around Rs 20,000 per piece. The UP government has allocated around Rs 3000 crore for the laptops.  The tablets are being priced at around Rs 10,000 per piece. HCL and Acer do have tablets around this price band but HP does not have it as yet. However, HP is reportedly working on a tablet on this price band to serve the government’s immediate needs. 

The UP Electronics Corporation which would be placing the order and ultimately paying out the companies has stipulated very stringent conditions for meeting the requirements. Companies competing with bids ought to have a minimum turnover of Rs 1100 crore per year which makes the order largely in favour of large computer hardware companies and virtually eliminates the smaller players who could possibly deliver equally competent tablets at lower price bands.

In the past few months,  competition for tablets has become so severe that many companies have caught up with the tablet mania and are delivering them at around Rs 3000 to Rs 5000 a piece with fully loaded packages including android software. Most of these tablets are being imported from China and Taiwan.
The after sales service conditions make it really tough for any company to comply as they are asking for support at the tehsil level, industry sources said.

Perhaps this is the biggest order by any state government so far. Easily UP is setting the pace for tablet consumption by its people.   – T N Ashok
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