|Traded as||TSX: DW|
|Founded||2001 (Montreal, Canada)|
|Headquarters||Mississauga, Ontario, Canada|
|Suneet Tuli, CEO
Raja Tuli, Co-founder, CTO
Dan Hilton, CFO
|Slogan||Bridging the Digital Divide|
DataWind is a wireless web access products and services developer founded in Montreal, Canada. Datawind manufactures low cost tablets for the purpose of education in developing countries. The company is known for its development of the Aakash tablet computer, which is the world’s cheapest tablet at US $37.99/unit. The Aakash tablet was developed for India's Ministry for Human Resource Development (MHRD).
In addition to its the Aakash tablet computer, Datawind manufactures a series of mobile internet devices such as the PocketSurfer smartphones, the UbiSurfer netbooks and the Ubislate tablets. The company’s devices are used to deliver a patented web delivery platform for faster and lower cost internet access on mobile networks. DataWind is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
- 1 History
- 2 Technology
- 3 Business Model
- 4 Content, Applications and Advertising Based Partnerships
- 5 Network Operator Partnerships
- 6 Partnerships for Social Causes
- 7 Awards & Recognition
- 8 Products
- 9 References
- 10 External links
DataWind was founded in Montreal in 2001 by brothers Suneet and Raja Tuli. Suneet and Raja Tuli grew up in Northern Alberta, Canada. Suneet Tuli is a Civil Engineer, who graduated from the University of Toronto. Raja is a Computer Engineer, who graduated from the University of Alberta. Suneet Tuli is DataWind's Chief Executive Officer and is responsible for its vision, strategy and execution. Raja Tuli is the company’s Co-Chairman and Chief Technology Officer, he is also an inventor with dozens of patents across a broad range of technologies related to the internet, imaging and energy sustenance.
DataWind’s product range includes the PocketSurfer Smartphones and UbiSlate Tablet Computer devices. The company has a portfolio of 14 international patents for its Web Delivery Platform which serves as the basis for its product innovations. The company manufactures, markets and sells tablets branded as UbiSlate to consumers worldwide and also provides a year of free internet browsing with its devices in various countries. The company also developed the Aakash tablet in collaboration with the Government of India which gained world wide attention for being the cheapest tablet in the world.
With its research and development based in Montreal, the company launched its first products in 2004  and their products were sold primarily in the United Kingdom. In 2004, the company was described as a "small tech shop" marketing its key product, the PocketSurfer, a PDA/Mobile Phone/Web Browsing device. Several iterations of the PocketSurfer followed.
In 2009, the Indian Government had pledged a low cost laptop as a means of using technology to improve the quality of education within the country, however, the development process was beset by delays and setbacks until DataWind won the tender for the tablet in late 2011. In the same year, DataWind made its entry into the Indian market with the launch of the Aakash tablet, developed for the Indian Government to help enhance the quality of education. At the October 2011 launch of the first generation Aakash tablet, the Indian Government announced that the tablet will be offered at a sufficiently low price threshold – to students at a subsidized price of $35 and to the public (as the Ubislate 7) for $60 – to enable ubiquitous, nationwide internet use. At the subsidized price, the tablet would cost the same as a pair of shoes or a basic mobile phone. Some analysts claim that the tablet will not only have a positive impact on the education sector but will also lead to positive changes in healthcare and other sectors besides improving internet penetration in the country. In his study, Rajat Kathuria, External Consultant at the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER),stated that the Indian economy could grow 10.08% faster with every 10% increase in the internet and broadband connections in the country.
The Ubislate tablet computers were launched commercially to consumers in India in April 2012 by which time pre-bookings for the device had exceeded 3 million units - more than ten times the size of the total market for tablets in India in the previous year. Since the commercial launch of the UbiSlate tablets, the company has been among the top three suppliers of tablets in India, according to Cybermedia Research. In the first quarter of 2013, Datawind dominated the Indian tablet market with the largest market share of tables sold in India, excluding the Aakash devices that were to be supplied to the government. Going forward, the company has plans to expose itself to tablet markets in UK, US and Canada. DataWind is also working with governments, NGOs and distributors in Latin American and African countries, where its products are being deployed.
In 2012, Forbes magazine named the CEO of DataWind, Suneet Tuli among the Impact 15 list of "classroom revolutionaries" who use innovative technologies to reinvent education for students and teachers globally
On 26 April 2012, DataWind launched Ubislate 7+ and 7C tablets in India, by which time 3 million units had already been pre-booked.
In 2013, according to Cyber Media Research India‘s Quarterly Tablet Market report for the first quarter of 2013, as published in The Times of India, DataWind had a market share of 15.3%, the company pulled ahead of rivals Micromax and Apple, this strong market hold did not include the Aakash series of tablets
In July 2014, the company completed its initial public offering  of 6,316,000 common shares at a price of $4.75 CAD per share, totaling to an amount of $30 Million CAD. DataWind's shares trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol "DW".
DataWind’s low cost devices allow access to the internet at lower data costs and faster speeds across congested mobile wireless networks by using the company’s patented Data Compression technology. In a 2011 interview, the company stated it would lower the price of the tablet by developing patents to shift the device's processing burden to "backend servers in the cloud," DataWind identified the need for low cost devices for web access as a means of providing an alternative to increasing costs of mobile internet devices caused by the corresponding increases in web complexity which require greater memory and processing power. DataWind’s internet delivery platform reduces bandwidth consumption by creating a parallel processing environment which shifts the burden of memory and processing power to back end servers, allowing users to access web with a lower cost device and lower data costs.
DataWind's Web Delivery Platform serves as the basis for its product innovations. Based on a patent portfolio of 14 US and international patents, DataWind’s technology accelerates the delivery of web-content across wireless networks, and reduces data consumption by a factor of ten.
DataWind’s acceleration and data-reduction is accomplished through the use of proprietary algorithms resident on its application servers that operate as a gateway between the primary (Internet based) content server selected by the user and the end user.
DataWind claims that its patented acceleration technology allows its devices to deliver the fastest mobile web experience across cellular networks. A product review by PC Magazine of the PocketSurfer stated that "it’s the only device that allows users to browse the web on a GPRS connection with any alacrity". In 2005 CNET reviewed the device stating that it was impressed with Pocket surfer’s page load times. Various media outlets conducted live speed tests on television with competitive products, including some on 3G networks, which resulted in DataWind’s PocketSurfer beating out its competition in terms of page downoad time.
DataWind’s business model focuses on providing a cost effective web access device with free Internet access to the entry level of the market. the company purchases wholesale access to mobile data from wireless network operators as a MVNO (mobile virtual network operator) or as part of a bundling relationship in order to offer free mobile internet access to its customers. DataWind’s web delivery platform reduces bandwidth consumption.
In November 2012, in an interview with the New York Times, Datawind‘s CEO explained that the company‘s business model was focused on pursuing a price sensitive consumer, the entry level of the market, forgoing hardware margins and driving a recurring revenue stream i.e after sale revenue (revenue share from network operators, content, subscriptions, device warranties, page impressions, location based content and advertising). DataWind's advertising revenues are generated by pre-loading applications on their devices. The company has formulated a full service ecosystem of revenue streams that help drive the cost of hardware down and hence the devices act as customer acquisition tools providing “Free Mobile Internet services”. Datawind has partnered with a number of firms as part of a comprehensive supplier and partner strategy in order to build applications and generate content for its devices.
Content, Applications and Advertising Based Partnerships
DataWind has partnerships with multiple firms to develop pre-installed free content for their devices. The content includes educational, language based, interactive smart books, multimedia, games and productivity tools.
On 20 November 2013, according to an article published in The Financial Express "DataWind, driving its mission to see smart devices as education tools, partnered with American education provider CK-12 Foundation providing high quality free mathematics and science learning content that can be used by teachers, students, schools and parents." CK-12 content would come pre-installed on most of the company’s devices hence forth, the company stated that pre-installed content on tablets will allow students to learn at their own pace, regardless of their location and also this content can be updated at regular intervals.
DataWind announced content partnerships with The Indian Express Group and Yahoo!. According to this agreement the Ubislate 7+ and the Ubislate 7C will come preloaded with the Indian Express news application and customers of these new tablets will receive a 50 percent discount on annual subscriptions of The Indian Express and The Financial Express. The tablets will also be pre-loaded with Yahoo! Cricket, the Yahoo! Mail application. The Yahoo! India homepage will be the default browser homepage for the Ubislate 7+.
DataWind has also partnered with Blueworld portal to help encourage a socially conscious approach to the internet. Blueworld is a social community where anyone can join and create a profile which allows you to connect with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share videos, write your own blogs, support your peers with groups, send text messages to any network for free and discover new people.
On December 3, 2013, DataWind partnered with IT firm Happiest Minds Technologies to develop applications and solutions for its UbiSlate range of tablets. Under the partnership, Happiest Minds will develop DataWind's App Store which will be designed to create a synergistic customer experience for first time Android users.
Network Operator Partnerships
In July 2009, DataWind collaborated with Vodafone to offer a bundled SIM and GPRS modem within the price of its PocketSurfer devices allowing free access to the Internet across the United Kingdom.
In March 2015, DataWind partnered with Reliance Communications to offer bundled unlimited internet browsing for one year with any of its devices.
In September 2015, DataWind entered into a partnership with Telenor India, a global mobile network operator with major Indian operations, to offer unlimited internet browsing for one year on all DataWind devices.
Partnerships for Social Causes
DataWind has partnered with a number of Governments and NGO's. Subsequent to the initial launch of the Aakash tablet for higher-learning institutions, Kapil Sibal, the Indian Minister of Human Resources and Development, announced that Aakash tablets will be provided free of cost to all 220 million students in India over the next few years.
During the 2011 elections in Thailand, the Pheu Thai Party promised free tablet PCs for all students, with numerous placards promising “One Tablet PC per Child”. Analysts estimated that approximately 20 million units would be required to provide for every student in the country. A senior figure in the Pheu Thai party said that they would fulfill their promise by importing the $35 Android tablets from India.
DataWind has sponsored a number of contests. On 29 November 2011, the Nasscom Foundation partnered with DataWind to announce a contest wherein 10 NGOs will have an opportunity to win 20 tablets each, mainly to improve their operations and programme implementation procedures. In order to win these tablets, the organisations had to showcase how they can best utilise the Aakash tablet for promoting education, health and livelihood.
On 11 January 2013, Datawind and the United Nations in partnership with Agnite Education, American Digital University, Applications for Good, BluWorld, Cat in Woods and Equal Access International launched a contest for developing socially responsible applications to empower women. The contest measured apps from the perspective of leadership and mentorship, jobs and entrepreneurship, education and conflict resolution. The winners of the contest were My Rights Application, Pictoson Application and the Talking English Application.
To help develop a new generation of software programmers that would focus on applications for humanitarian causes, DataWind regularly sponsors "hackathons". In 2012 and 2013, DataWind sponsored two "hackathons" with Geeks Without Bounds, an accelerator for humanitarian projects.
Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)
DataWind partners with and supports a number of charitable and non-government organizations to help deploy its technology for humanitarian causes.
On 23 October 2013, in an article published in The Washington Post, Chris Evans, a renowned philanthropist, donated 100 Aakash tablets to communities in the Schools of Wake County in Raleigh, North Carolina for its “Smart Summer” program—a summer camp for disadvantaged African-American children in order for them to start school better prepared. Ubislate tablets containing pre-installed science and mathematics applications were distributed and they proved to be effective learning tools.
Datawind also partnered with Virginia Advanced Study Strategies (VASS), a non profit organisation, to launch a contest where six school districts enrolled 85 students in either of two free online coding courses with the offer of a DataWind tablet as an incentive for kids to complete the course and develop an application.
In November 2013, Datawind and World Vision Canada collaborated to supply $40 tablets in African countries. As part of their on-going field testing at the community level, World Vision used the Ubislate tablets in two African countries, Niger and Rwanda, to collect data at the project level to monitor change and measure impact and the effectiveness of their development work in the areas of health, education to families and aiding children in need. 
Awards & Recognition
In January 2014, DataWind was named in MIT Technology Review's 50 Smartest Companies List Recognizing the World's Most Innovative Companies.
At the 2014 CES, the company was also acknowledged and featured in "Dave's Top Ten" and "Into Tomorrow with Dave Graveline".
In November 2012, the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon launched the Aakash 2 tablet at the United Nations. The United Nations Secretary General referred to DataWind’s products as the “great enabler with potential to transform people’s lives”.
In 2012, Forbes magazine named the CEO of Datawind, Suneet Tuli, among the Impact 15 list of "classroom revolutionaries" who are using innovative technologies to reinvent education for students and teachers globally.
DataWind was also acknowledged with several other awards such as:
- 2015 Most Innovative Solution for Achievement of Digital India award during the 9th annual NTA ICT World Communications Awards.
- 2013 Most Innovative Access Device Award at the NTA ICT World Communication Awards bestowed by Mr. Hamadoun Toure, Secretary General, International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
- ShikshaRatna Award by Digital Learning State Education Summit 2013 for the Aakash 2.
- 2012 United Kingdom's Most Innovative Mobile Company Award run by the UK Trade & Investment Department (UKTI)
- 2011 CNBC TV 18 and Mercedez Benz Young Turks Innovation of the Year Award.
- Finalist at the Mobile World Congress for Innovation in Education and at the CTIA Wireless Show for the Big Idea Award.
- 28th Annual Innovation Awards Gala, the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance announced DataWind as the winner of the 2013 McCagueBorlack Outstanding Product Achievement Award.
- Indo-Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s Technology Achievement Award.
The PocketSurfer is DataWind's handheld mobile network access device. The first version of the Pocketsurfer was launched in 2004.
The device features included a QWERTY keyboard and a 5.3 inch (diagonal) screen. Reviews for the pocket surfer had been mixed as PC Magazine’s review of the product exclaimed that "it’s the only device that lets you browse the web on a GPRS connection with any alacrity" and CNET in 2005 reviewed the device stating that it was impressed with PocketSurfer’s page load times.
In February 2007, Datawind introduced the “PocketSurfer 2” at the 3GSM forum in Barcelona, a new and improved version of the first generation PocketSurfer. It was described as the world’s fastest handheld Internet device. The sleek mobile device offered free mobile internet access and provided a desktop like experience with a 640 pixel color wide screen displaying web-pages in their original layout with HTML, graphics, Java-Script, Ajax, Frames and other complex web functionality. The PocketSurfer 2 included a built-in GPS receiver for location-based services with page-load times of less than 7 seconds. Engadget referred to the original PocketSurfer devices as “Iconic”
In December 2013, on the tenth anniversary of the launch of the original PocketSurfer, the company entered the smart phone market with the launch of the PocketSurfer range of Smartphones in India featuring 5” inch touchscreens, these dual-sim smartphones were available at an extremely low price point. In reaction to the launch of the Smartphone in India, The Economic Times exclaimed: “Aakash maker DataWind enters smartphone market, breaks all price points!”
In March 2015, the company launched its range of low cost smartphones, the PocketSurfer 2G4 and the PocketSurfer 3G4 with one year of free internet browsing on its proprietary UbiSurfer browser.
PocketSurfer Smartphone Range
|PocketSurfer 2G4||PocketSurfer 3G4||PocketSurfer 3G5|
|Networks||WiFi & EDGE||WiFi & 3G||WiFi & 3G|
|OS||Android 4.2.2 Jellybean||Android 4.4.2 KitKat||Android 4.4.2 KitKat|
|CPU||Cortex A7 - 1 GHz||Cortex A7 – 1 GHz||Cortex A7 – 1 GHz|
|RAM||256 MB||256 MB||512 MB|
|FLASH||512 MB||512 MB||4 GB|
|Camera||N/A||Front VGA/Rear 5MP||Front VGA/Rear 3MP|
|Screens||3.5" TFT Capacitive||4” TFT Capacitive||5” TFT Capacitive|
|Ports||Micro SD & Micro USB||Micro SD & Micro USB||Micro SD & Micro USB|
The Ubisurfer is DataWind's range of Netbooks. In April 2010, Datawind launched the Ubisurfer portable Netbooks in India. The UbiSurfer name is an amalgamated form of the two words Ubiquitous and Surfing. The netbook offered mobile web browsing with an integrated modem and a SIM Card slot. The Ubisurfer could support both CDMA (1x) and GSM networks. The device offered WiFi and LAN connectivity, an in-built cellular modem and an embedded SIM card that allows access to the internet with a mobile phone signal. Datawind's UbiSurfer was equipped with an ARM processor running at 450 MHz with 128MB RAM, 1GB Flash memory and up to 50GB of online storage. UbiSurfer had a seven inch wide bright TFT screen supporting a 800x480 pixel resolution.The device was also equipped with the Ubisurfer browser that allows webpage delivery times of under 7 seconds.
The UbiSurfer 9 was made available in India at a price of Rs. 7999, which also included a one-year free Internet browsing plan. On 7 April 2011, Datawind unveiled its new version of the mobile internet device, the UbiSurfer 9 3G, in London, England. This netbook offered users free Internet access in the UK and low cost roaming in Europe and USA. It sported a sleek nine-inch screen and weighed in at 700g, its free-usage model eliminated the user from any form of binding contracts, activation fees or credit checks.
In 2009, the National Mission on Education through Information Communication Technology (NME-ICT) initiative of the Indian Government cited that a lot could be done for education using information and communication technologies. An initiative by India’s Ministry for Human Resource Development (MHRD) was launched to procure a low cost mobile web access device with built in features ensuring that technologies and content were accessible to everyone. In late 2011, Datawind won the Indian government tender to design the Aakash tablet computers with an initial trial run of 100,000 units. Upon its launch, The Wall Street Journal stated that the Aakash was the World's cheapest tablet.
On 5 October 2011, the Aakash was launched by Kapil Sibal, the then Minister of Human Resource and Development. Datawind designed, developed and manufactured this first version of Aakash on the specifications set by IIT Rajasthan. It’s extremely low price garnered global attention and the tablet is known as the world’s cheapest tablet device.
On 11 November 2012, President of India, Pranab Mukherjee launched the Aakash 2,an improved version of the Aakash tablet. This updated new version had a better processor based on the ARM Cortex A8 architecture and had a multi-touch projective capacitive screen in place of a resistive one. The Aakash 2 (Ubislate 7Ci) was considered the World's most cost effective web access device, it utilized a 1 GHz processor, of the same caliber as the original iPad, and contained 512 MB of RAM (twice that of the original iPad). The tablet supported a flash memory of 4 GB that can be supplemented by up to 32GB with the use of a micro-SD card. In addition it was loaded with Wi-Fi supported connectivity and also an external 3G and an EVDO dongle for mobile broadband data. Other features included Google's Android 4.0 operating system, a VGA camera, G-sensors, an internal microphone, speakers and a headphone jack. The Aakash 2 is considered as a full-featured tablet computer.
On 12th Nov 2013, The Indian Express was quoted as saying that the “Aakash 3 was better than its predecessor. The difference with previous versions was the addition of calling functionality and a more powerful battery that provided longer backup. Proposed Akash 4 (Ubislate 7CZ) the tablet with proposed technical specifications set by India’s Department of Electronics and technology-Ministry of Information and technology-Government of India.
The UbiSlates are a series of Android tablets with touch screens that are also capable of performing as smart-phones and are built for mobile web access, multimedia content , android games and applications. The UbiSlate tablet has an High-Definition video co-processor for high quality video and comes equipped with DataWind's UbiSurfer browser that accelerates web page delivery. The device includes WiFi & GPRS connectivity as well as allows for mobile internet access through SIM and Phone connectivity. Optional 3G modems are also supported via USB. In addition to a micro-SD card slot, a full-sized USB port is integrated into the unit allowing pen-drives, external keyboards, web-cams, dongles and other inexpensive accessories can also be attached.
On 26th April,2012 DataWind launched Ubislate 7+ and 7C tablets in India, in the same month the company declared that it had 3 million pre-bookings for Ubislate tablets. The commercial version of Aakash was released online as the UbiSlate7 tablet PC at INR 3000 (US$46) and the Ubislate7+ tablet PC at INR 3500 (US$54) on 11 November 2012 with plans to offer it at a subsidized cost for students of INR 1130 (US$17). In October 2013, DataWind launched UbiSlate 7Cx, UbiSlate 3G7 and UbiSlate 9Ci tablets in India.
Ubislate Tablet Range
|UbiSlate 10Ci||UbiSlate 3G10||UbiSlate 7C+||UbiSlate 7CZ||UbiSlate 9Ci||UbiSlate 3G7|
|Networks||WiFi & 3G||WiFi & 3G||WiFi & EDGE||WiFi & EDGE||WiFi||WiFi & UMTS (2100) & BT|
|OS||Android 4.4.2 Kitkat||Android 4.2.2 Jellybean||Android 4.2.2 Jellybean||Android 4.4.2 Kitkat||Android 4.4.2 Kitkat||Android 4.4.2 Kitkat|
|CPU||Cortex A9 - 1.1 GHz||Cortex A7 - 1.3 GHz||Cortex A5 - 1 GHz||Cortex A7 - 1.3 GHz||Cortex A7 - 1.2 GHz||Cortex A7 - 1.3 GHz|
|RAM||1 GB||1 GB||512 MB||512 MB||512 MB||1 GB|
|Flash||4 GB||8 GB||4GB||4 GB||4GB||4 GB|
|Cameras||Front VGA/Rear 2 MP||Front VGA/Rear 5 MP||Front VGA||Front VGA/Rear 2MP||Front VGA/Rear VGA||Front VGA/Rear 2MP|
|Screen||10.1” TFT Capacitive||10.1” TFT Capacitive||7” TFT Capacitive||7” TFT Capacitive||9” TFT Capacitive||7” TFT Capacitive|
|Ports||Micro SD & Micro USB||Micro SD & Micro USB||Micro SD & Micro USB||Micro SD & Micro USB||Micro SD & Micro USB||Micro SD & Micro USB|
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