Egyptian company Banha electronics is gearing up in preparation to mass produce Inar, the first Egyptian tablet, with the target being providing university students with access to a subsidized/free tablet. The merits of such a national projects can’t be denied with the most obvious being exponentially expanding the Egyptian android user base, to become the largest in the region which would automatically attract developers to build apps targeting highly specific local needs. This project reminds me of the “haseb le kol bayt” project which basically placed Egypt where it is in the IT outsourcing industry and in a way ended up creating a tech savvy generation.
I wasn’t able to find the official website for the product (seems like they don’t have one), the manufacturer website didn’t include anything about Inar (however its a must visit for other reasons). A Facebook page that describes itself as the semi-official (?!) page included a limited specs sheet.
Decent components, nothing that special yet perfectly usable to cover most of the things you may require from an “educational” tablet. Naturally since no one has ever seen one in the wild the build quality remains a big mystery. Build quality is a key component when you are planning to distribute it to students, from the unboxing video you can tell that it comes bundled with a protective case. I hope this is not the official unboxing video as its a bit lacking when it comes to quality (if you skip to 3:39, you’ll see that the user is trying to use ipad gestures to close the app, which isn’t even available in android!!!).
The semi-official sources lists its price as ranging between 1200 to 1500 EGP ($171), a price tag that’s almost 4 times the price of the AkashII (the indian tablet) which is being produced for a similar project in India. However if they are planning to subsidize it or distribute it for free to students the price would be irrelevant. People online are promoting buying it stating that buying it will result in releasing a better, cheaper version, which is true given that we have decent management. Egypt has been manufacturing laptops for quite sometime now however we weren’t able to take it anywhere, just mediocre low end laptops for local consumption.
Unfortunately Inar is being politicized being used as propaganda by various Egyptian political parties, which is greatly impacting how its being depicted in the media (even social media) with people losing their objectiveness while reviewing it. Also with the regime/ruling party painting it as a national achievement they are setting it up to fail as there is no way for it to match the expectations they’ve building up.
Realistically speaking and as an aspiring android developer, I think that this along with mobile money may be the next major market changers, with Egypt finding its way into Google’s Radar which honestly I think is long over-due.