Orange Backs Away from Apple Tablet Comments

An executive at French telecommunications carrier Orange appears to confirm the existence of an Apple Tablet, but Orange later states that it simply meant it would be delighted to carry such a mobile device should Apple make one.

Executives at Orange were rather red in the face after one of their own appeared to have confirmed the existence of an Apple tablet Jan. 11 during an interview on French radio.

According to Orange, no such confirmation occurred.

St??«phane Richard, deputy CEO of France Telecom, which owns Orange, said in a statement to British news site PaidContent:UK that his comments during the interview were "taken out of context, then interpreted into English."

"These responses in no way reflect Orange's confirmation of the existence of the rumored device," an Orange spokesperson told the news site in an e-mail. "The spokesperson was merely confirming that he is aware of the speculation surrounding a launch and that Orange would be delighted to have such a product were it ever to be available."

During the interview, which TechCrunch has translated from French, interviewer Jean-Pierre Elkabbach said in a few days, according to local press, Apple will be launching a tablet computer, with which Richard agreed. Elkabbach then mentioned that the tablet would have a Webcam, with which Richard also agreed.

"Are Orange customers going to be able to enjoy it?" Elkabbach followed.

"Of course!" Richard answered.

Apple has not addressed whether it is working on a tablet device. However, rumors of an Apple tablet have been growing since May, and many expect that the iPhone maker will introduce a tablet at the San Francisco event planned for Jan. 25 to 27.

On Dec. 28, a former Google China executive wrote on his blog that, according to friends familiar with the project, the Apple tablet will feature a 10.1-inch multitouch screen and be priced below $1,000. He added that Apple expects to ship 10 million of the devices in the first year.

And further, on Jan. 5, the Wall Street Journal reported that the tablet will ship in March, according to sources briefed by Apple.