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India's cheap-as-chips delayed by cash spat

£20 netbook will take even longer to appear

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Will Indians ever be able to buy a netbook for 20 quid? The nation's government still hopes so, despite binning its original offer to manufacturers to come up with one.

The Indian government pitched the ultra-low cost laptop notion last year, and put the project out to tender with a view to having product ready to release by 15 January 2011.

That deadline was passed last week. It transpires that the vendor selected to design and build the computer - intended to bring internet access to millions of poorly paid Indians - had failed to indemnify the Indian government against the cost of the project crashing, local paper the Times of India reports.

The government this week confirmed that a new tender had been issued. It hopes that the project can be quickly revived, and product will appear mid year.

That may prove optimistic. While the government's Ministry of Human Resource and Development, the organisation behind the project, wants to charge Rs 1500 (£31/$33), moles claim the cost of the parts alone come to Rs5700 (£79/$125) - and that's before the machine has been assembled, loaded with software, boxed up and shipped out.

It has been claimed, the ToI said, that that discrepancy is the real reason government and manufacturer fell out. ®

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