Orange CEO “confirms” Apple Tablet with built-in web cam


Stéphane Richard, the CEO Delegate of has seemingly confirmed the forthcoming announcement of the much anticipated Apple Tablet in response to questions posed to him by journalist Jean Pierre Elkabbach of Radio Europe 1… but the whole interview could just as easily be the mindless corporate boasting of a mouthpiece not really listening to the question.

The transcript, in English:

Jean Pierre Elkabbach: According to Le Point, your partner Apple will launch a Tablet…

Stéphane Richard: Yes.

Jean Pierre Elkabbach: …with a webcam…

Stéphane Richard: Yes.

Jean Pierre Elkabbach: …would Orange users benefit from this?

Stéphane Richard: Sure! They are going to benefit from the web cam, certainly we will be able to, in effect, transmit images in real time. We are going to modernize, in essence, the video phone that we knew a few years ago… the size of the resolution, and the quality of the resolution will be better, and it will be available to all in France.

On one hand, Richard is the head of operations of Orange in France. Orange had an exclusive on the iPhone until last year, so presumably, Richard would have a good idea of what was coming down the pipeline from Apple.

But there’s something about Richard’s responses that come across as PR auto-pilot. His affirmations of the Tablet’s existence seem more equivalent to the grunts someone might interject into a conversation to show that he is listening than actual affirmation, and his final answer just says that Orange is positioned to handle higher resolution video conferencing over 3G. He’s not really commenting about the device, just talking about a future trend in mobile computing and boasting that his telecom can handle the bandwidth overheard.

Then again, this isn’t the first time Orange has confirmed a hot new Apple product before it was officially announced: in 2007, Orange CEO Didier Lombard confirmed the existence of the iPhone long before Steve Jobs pulled it out of his pocket on stage, resulting in fury from Cupertino and an official (but soon-to-be-proven dishonest) denial by Orange PR.

What do you think? Was Richard just answering by rote, or did he actually mean to confirm the existence of the Tablet?