While the Indian market begins to get cluttered with a variety of tablets, the defining line will not be just the price factor but also the services and applications that come along with the device, say experts.
Just like in the case of mobile phones, many domestic and Chinese companies have started offering a variety of low cost tablets, trying to take on high-end manufacturers like Apple and Samsung and offering tablets for as low as Rs.6,000.
But experts say that the tablet market is still a very small one as it serves a very niche consumer segment.
"Demand has still not surged and it's still a very niche device, there is not yet any real uptake from the end users," Vishal Tripathi, principal research analyst at Gartner, told IANS.
According to Tripathi, for tablets adoption in India, it is necessary that these devices should move up the utility graph and become as indispensable as a laptop. Manufacturers should provide a value proposition in terms of both cost and applications.
"The only way of taking a step forward in this direction is by putting in India specific content, including local language newspapers, music, health books, etc," he said.
Let's take a look at some of the tablets on offer.
At Rs.36,200, the Samsung Galaxy 750, claims to be the world's slimmest, has a promotional offer from Vodafone of 2GB data download every month at Rs.3,000 and comes with a pre-loaded application that gives Indian consumers access to 17 Indian newspapers and magazines and 30,000 Indian language books and a mobile TV application.
Apple's iPad 2 which is available for Rs.46,900 offers 64 GB memory and is one of the most advanced mobile operating system, iOS4 used by iPhone and iPod touch. It also has built-in apps including FaceTime for video chatting. One can also run third-party apps and switch between them easily with the intuitive multitasking interface.
But of late there has been a spurt in the number of lower priced tablets with even leading telecom operators plunging into this space.
Reliance Communications has launched its 7-inch tab which comes bundled with the operator's 3G services and runs on android 2.3 operating system. The device is priced at Rs.12,999 and has 4GB memory card which is expandable up to 32GB.
Bharti Airtel group company, Beetel, too launched a similar sized tablet for Rs.9,999. It comes with a 3G data plan and has an internal capacity of 8GB which can be extended up to 16GB.
The big draw of these devices is that both can make calls too unlike many other such devices available in the market.
According to Sumanta Mukherjee, lead analyst for computing devices at CyberMedia Research, the popularity of a brand will depend not only on the price point that it offers but also on the content and applications that it offers.
"Indian customers are price sensitive; though Rs.10,000 price point is attractive, it is not a small amount for them. They do not look for cheaper devices but for value for their money," Mukherjee told IANS.
Mobile handset maker Spice Mobile, which is scheduled to launch its tablet by the end of this month, is, however, optimistic and is counting on the growing mobile internet market for success.
"Growth is definitely there and there is a lot of space in the tablet market today, as wireless internet picks up ," said Payal Gaba, national marketing head, Spice Mobile.
Gaba said that Spice plans to target small and medium enterprises and low end corporate users for their tablets which would start at Rs.15,000.
Chinese handset manufacturer G'Five who shot to fame after surpassing Samsung in terms of unit shipments market share during the third quarter of 2010 says that the company will launch its tablets by the end of September.
"Below Rs.10,000 tablet market does not exist today. With our products we are in the process of creating a new market for the first time users," Arshit Pathak, managing director of Kingtech Electronics - a group company of G'Five International - told IANS.
Well, that hasn't stopped domestic companies in launching ultra-low cost tablets -- for as low as Rs.6,000.
(Priyanka Sahay can be contacted at priyanka.sahay @ians.in or firstname.lastname@example.org)