updated 03:15 pm EST, Mon January 11, 2010
Carrier claims tablet slip "out of context"
Orange has quickly tried to backtrack from its deputy chief Stéphane Richard's apparent acknowledgment of an Apple tablet earlier today. An official statement asserts that the statement was taken out of context and that Richard's apparent support "in no way reflect[s]" a confirmation of the hardware. The French carrier insists its executive was simply confirming awareness of the rumors and expressing a desire for it should it become real.
The validity of Orange's denial is unclear. Richard's "yes" responses are ambiguous, but the executive goes beyond the commonly-quoted section to enthuse about the usefulness of the webcam for video chats, speaking as though he knows the product rather than simply speculating.
France Telecom, Orange's parent, has been one of the most enthusiastic adoptees of the iPhone and was eager enough for chief Didier Lombard to confirm a deal in 2007 weeks before either Apple or Orange was ready for an unveiling.
Most rumors surrounding the as-yet unconfirmed tablet have it launched at a press event in late January, most likely the 27th, and would line up with the original Le Point rumor that triggered Richard's comments.