Pakistan’s answer to the iPad is the PACPAD
By CHRIS BRUMMITT
Catch me if you can … Mohammad Imran holds a locally-made PACPad computer tablet at his electronics store in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.
Inside a high-security air force complex that builds jet fighters and weapons systems, Pakistan’s military is working on the latest addition to its sprawling commercial empire: a homegrown version of the iPad.
It’s a venture that bundles together Pakistani engineering and Chinese hardware, and shines a light on the military’s controversial foothold in the consumer market. Supporters say it will boost the economy as well as a troubled nation’s self-esteem.
It all comes together at an air force base in Kamra in northern Pakistan, where avionics engineers – when they’re not working on defense projects – assemble the PACPAD 1.
“The original is the iPad, the copy is the PACPAD,” said Mohammad Imran, who stocks the product at his small computer and mobile phone shop in a mall in Rawalpindi, a city not far from Kamra and the home of the Pakistani army.
The device runs on Android 2.3, an operating system made by Google and given away for free. At around $US200, it’s less than half the price of Apple or Samsung devices and cheaper than other low-end Chinese tablets on the market, with the bonus of a local, one-year guarantee.
The PAC in the name stands for the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, where it is made. The PAC also makes an e-reader and small laptop.