Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thailand Signs $32.8m Deal to Begin Largest Educational Tablet Rollout to Date


Jon Russell / 13 May 2012

Thailand looks set to proceed with the widest educational tablet deployment to date, after the country’s government finally signed an initial $32.8 million (1.02 billion THB) contract for a project that aims to deploy close to a million devices across the nation’s schools.

The initiative, which was first announced as an election promise from the Pheu Thai party last summer, will see supplier Shenzhen Scope ship an initial 400,000 devices within the next 90 days, following first delivery of 2,000 test units, FutureGov reports.

An as-yet-unsigned contract is on the table for a further 530,000 devices — taking the rollout to 930,000 units and total spend to $75.7 million — as the government advances its objective of providing every first grade student at a public school with their own tablet.

The Scopad SP0712, which Thailand is buying, has some promising details on paper. It is powered by Google’s latest Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) platform, and features a 7-inch touchscreen, 8GB of storage, 1GB Ram and GPS.

The eductional tablet market is growing and March saw the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) organisation announce plans to introduce a device, in partnership with Marvell. The organisations have begun distributing the $185 XO 3.0 — which is specifically designed for developing markets — in undisclosed numbers but Thailand’s deployment is the largest scale rollout thus far.

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Given the background and development of the project, it remains to be seen if there will be further hitches. However, the scale of the initiative is likely to see it keenly watched by other governments and educational organisations.

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Aside from OLPC, Intel launched its Studybook educational tablet in April and, in India, the $140 Classpad has been made available to thousands of students in 25 schools in the country.

The largest iPad rollout from an educational organisation in the US saw San Diego Unified School District distribute 25,000 Apple’s tablets for students in the area.

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