SA company unveils localised tablets

Digital Content

The Wise Touch tablets are manufactured in China, but are locally branded and customised, with applications and content specifically for the local market. South African company, Wise Tablets, is soon to release a low-cost tablet developed and customised for the local market.

The “Wise Touch 1” will be available in 7-inch and 9-inch formats, with capacitive multi-touch, running Android 2.3.

The 9-inch tablet will retail for less than R3 500, while the 7-inch 3G tablet will cost less than R2 500, and the entry-level 7-inch WiFi tablet will go for less than R1 500.

MD of Wise Tablets, Gian Shipton, says: “The problem with tablets available today is that all of them offer exactly the same thing; software markets”.

“We found that most of the average South African consumers have a problem with the current high prices of the brand-named tablets, but apart from the pricing issue, it also relates to the fact that none of the tablets in the market, including the Apple iPad, present any form of local content.”

Shipton says the content on the new tablets will be what sets them apart. “What makes the Wise Touch SA's first South African tablet is what's on the inside.”

Apart from the regular Android apps, the tablets come preloaded with South African applications, developed specifically for the Wise Touch on behalf of local brands. The local content is categorised under the Wise Shopping Mall, Wise Business Park and Wise Education Centre.

According to Wise, there are already over 115 “tenants” on board for the Mall and Business Park. While Wise doesn't yet want to release the names of the tenants, the company says they include major local retailers, banks, broadcasters, media houses, food outlets and airlines.

“Within the Wise Shopping Mall you have a variety of shopping options available, just as you would have in a physical mall. Read a magazine or today's newspaper in the Magazine Store, order a take-away from your favourite restaurant in the Food Court, or do all of your shopping through the various Retail Stores,” says Shipton.

Wise has its own team of full-time developers, as well as contract developers, who have been working on the project since the beginning of the year.

“We have not only created apps, but a full back-end with billing and updates – similar to Apple and Android.”

Speaking of the Wise Education Centre, the company says: “We have been inundated with many parties that have access to various pieces of education – from the public school syllabus to university departments and private schools.

“We then get the education content provider to develop their content and provide it in a certain format, which our tablets use.” The company says it already has access to most of the public school syllabus and some university content.

“This education content will be supplied almost free of charge to students, but is limited to being used on our tablets due to encryption and DRM (digital right management) issues with the content owners.

“We are aiming to have most households of LSM7+ to have our tablets for education in their houses soon,” says Wise, adding that the main focus is a sponsorship programme with media partners that will sponsor devices with educational content for free for students.

Wise Tablets says the size of the screen is of little influence to them. “We decided (although not finally) to have a 9-inch rather than 10-inch to avoid attracting negative patent wars from the larger players.

“There is currently a fine line between design look and feel, and we want to steer clear of following them with design. Apart from that, we will actually also offer an 8-inch tablet next year,” says Wise.

“Our Wise Touch 2 has already been placed on our roadmap and will actually include more hardware than even found in Apple and Samsung. At that stage, we might be seen as a serious competitor. We believe our content still is what makes us different, not the hardware.”

The Wise Touch tablets are being manufactured in China. The company says that they are not a standard Chinese-boxed product, but made specifically to its specs and branding.

“Our hardware partners own their own manufacturing chain, and thus we have development control over them,” says Wise.

The company is expecting the first batch of tablets to arrive in December, but the official launch is planned for early next year.