France Telecom exec says Apple tablet coming soon

Stephane Richard appears to confirm in a radio interview that the device will be announced in the "next couple of days."

Apple has said nothing official about the tablet, but plenty of others have.

That group now includes France Telecom/Orange executive Stephane Richard. In an interview Monday with French radio station Europe1, Richard responded to a series of questions from journalist Jean-Pierre Elkabbach, giving the impression he was confirming the existence of an Apple tablet.

The conversation went like this (courtesy of Google Translate):

Elkabbach: "According to the weekly Le Point, a few days your partner Apple will launch a tablet with a webcam."

Richard: "Yes."

Elkabbach: "Is that Orange users will also benefit."

Richard: "Sure."

There are a couple of reasons to be hesitant that this is indeed a confirmation. While it would be surprising for a partner of Apple's (France Telecom/Orange is an iPhone wireless service provider) to make such a critical error, it would not be unheard of. There's also the possibility that it was a purposeful leak. Plus, "a few days" would indicate a week or less. Previous reports have indicated that Apple will have a big announcement on January 26 or 27, at least two weeks away.

But the tone of Richard's answers are also open to interpretation. The way interviewer Elkabbach phrases his initial question, Richard's "Yes" could be him agreeing that yes, an Apple tablet is on the way, or just that yes, newspaper Le Point did indeed suggest that.

SlashGear has uploaded the video of the interview, so if you speak French, check it out for yourself:

Update 11:15 a.m. PST: France Telecom has offered some clarification to Paid Content. Richard says he was just acknowledging the rumors about Apple's tablet:

"These responses in no way reflect Orange's confirmation of the existence of the rumoured device. 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."

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