Reuters: A Russian state company plans to start mass production next year of cheap plastic-based tablet computers for school students which it says will rival Apple Inc’s iPad.
Anatoly Chubais, an architect of Russian market reform and a head of technology conglomerate Rosnano, told Prime Minister Vladimir Putin the new computer would cost about $420 compared with $670 for the cheapest iPad.
“This tablet is lighter, there is no glass, even in the screen.
Even if school students decide to fight each other with these tablets, they are absolutely injury-free,” Chubais joked in a bid to promote the technology.
The device would use plastic or organic electronics, developed at Cambridge University in the 1990s, rather than silicon conductors. Chubais sees the technology grabbing a 10 percent share of the global electronics market.
Television footage showed Chubais handing to Putin the 20 by 30 centimetre tablet PC, which visually resembled the iPad but exceeded its rival in size. Putin touched the screen and smiled when a popular proverb came up.
Unlike his partner in Russia’s ruling duo, President Dmitry Medvedev, an Apple fan who appears at official events carrying his iPad, Putin is not a computer geek, and officials are often advised not to display their iPads in his presence.
Many younger Russian bureaucrats and entrepreneurs who see Medvedev as their leader and want him to take part in the March 2012 presidential election also carry iPads and are active on Twitter and Facebook.
In January 2011 Rosnano paid $150 million for 25 percent of Plastic Logic, seen as one of the global leaders in plastic electronics and which plans to invest $700 million in building a manufacturing plant outside Moscow.
Apple’s main distributor in Russia, Re:Store, estimates the local market for tablet computers at 500,000 per year, with Apple’s iPad holding a 60 percent share.
“I can be certain that a Russian tablet computer will not get more than a 10 percent share of the market,” Re:Store’s CEO Tikhon Smykov told Reuters.
Chubais said Rosnano will test the new tablet, pre-loaded with school books and education materials, in some schools for a year before launching mass production and targeting Russia’s 13.6 million school students.