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A French Orange and an Apple tablet?

Rory Cellan-Jones | 15:01 UK time, Monday, 11 January 2010

Zut alors! Has an executive from the French telecoms company Orange just let the cat out of the bag about Apple's tablet computer? It's a product which, so far, exists only in the feverish speculation of bloggers and journalists.

nowhereelse.frNow, at least according to a French blog, this may all have changed. Orange's Stephane Richard, in an interview with Europe 1, has apparently revealed that the tablet will be unveiled by Apple within days. Speaking to Jean-Pierre Elkabbach - the French equivalent of David Dimbleby or Jeremy Paxman - Mr Richard seems to have said this:

Elkabbach: Selon l'hebdomadaire Le Point, dans quelques jours, votre partenaire Apple va lancer une tablette dotee d'une webcam?
Richard: Oui.
Elkabbach: Est-ce que les usagers d'Orange en beneficieront aussi?
Richard: Bien sur. Ils en beneficieront d'autant plus facilement qu'avec la webcam on pourra en effet se transmettre de l'image en temps reel.

This translates as follows:

Elkabbach: According to the magazine Le Point, in a few days your partners at Apple will launch a tablet equipped with a webcam?
Richard: Yes.
Elkabbach: Will Orange customers get to use it?
Richard: Of course. Especially since the webcam gives you real-time video streaming.

If the tablet - or iSlate - is being launched in late January, Apple is likely to have briefed some of its key customers around the world by now, while making them sign non-disclosure agreements in blood.

If all is as it seems, Steve Jobs will not look kindly on this leak - so perhaps Orange customers may not beneficier after all.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Another over-hyped Apple device that will fall a little short on specs?

  • Comment number 2.

    @James - Some people prioritise user experience over raw specs. I don't understand what's wrong with that.

  • Comment number 3.

    I can't imagine Steve Jobs will be happy about this. Expect Orange to drop down the pecking order of preferred telcoms partners!

  • Comment number 4.

    So... is anyone actually going to buy this rather pointless device?

    I mean, sure, if it runs full OS X and has touch enabled commercial applications I suppose so as well as the faithful who are obliged to do so, otherwise... no.

    In the meantime the usual suspects will keep hyping a device that they tell us "everyone wants" and "everyone is talking about" when, in fact, it's really only them.

  • Comment number 5.

    Update (courtesy of paidContent:UK )

    Apparently Richard was simply acknowledging the speculation regarding a tablet and the company's wish to support it if it does exist.

    "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."


    I suppose it's possible that's what he meant...

  • Comment number 6.

    @Mark_MWFC There's nothing like having an open mind!

    We could, of course, give Apple the benefit of the doubt and wait for them to announce it (if they ever do), before labelling it as 'rather pointless'.

    That Windows 8? Not worth the money!

  • Comment number 7.

    @2

    I don't understand what's wrong with that.

    So you're happy to pay for the iSlate, the iSlate 3G then iSlate 3GS?
    Will it get MMS out the box, etc?

  • Comment number 8.

    I am hoping that this will make a useful eBook reader/laptop combo. Reading documents on a laptop screen is not very convenient and carting around a laptop and an eBook reader is rather pointless. Not sure, however, how well this device will work as a lap top. Input by on screen keyboard will have to be good, or are they going to go for some sort of improved handwriting recognition?

    If the iPhone is anything to go by, I am expecting it to do what ever it is aimed at, well, but probably be lacking in some of the "nice to haves"....

    wait and see I guess.

  • Comment number 9.

    @Tengsted (7)

    I agree with Tim (6) lets see if it exists and what it does before slagging it off. If you are happy with the spec, buy it if you want to. If you aren't don't.

    I agree though, Apple do seem to be a little "timid" with their specs!

  • Comment number 10.

    If we're going to wait and see if it exists, then what's the point of all these blog entries? It's all speculation.

    And there's no harm in speculation, especially if it's based on past performance, such as the glaringly bad omission of 3G on iPhone 1.

    Happens with every other product and service in the land before launch. Should Apple be shielded from that? Not at all.

  • Comment number 11.

    I don't think anyone here is trying to shield Apple from speculation Tengsted. Posts 6 and 9 seem quite reasonable to me - just indicating that to describe a product we know nothing about as "this rather pointless device" before we even know its 'point' - is somewhat premature!

  • Comment number 12.

    Leaking is all part of the pre-launch publicity and so far Apple have had about a weeks publicity through press speculation this included. I very much doubt Orange would dare do this without Jobs OK.

    Very clever especially as the media fall for it every time. How much free advertising do Apple need anyway when a large proportion are buying form before function as a fashion statement, after all Jobs is an marketing man, not an Engineer.

  • Comment number 13.

    @Mark_MWFC
    Are you just a huge Microsoft shill or what? You were all for Microsoft and HP's rather underwhelming device.

    Microsoft has proven time and time again that the Tablet format with a full OS doesn't work because it is not customised to that particular user experience. The tech communities reply to the HP Slate PCs has been a collective sigh of "so what? its just Windows 7"

    Let's wait to see what Apple has planned, if there is anything Apple knows how to do, its consumer technology, something Microsoft has pretty much failed in entirely except with the Xbox.
    Don't say Windows is a consumer technology, because it isn't. People use it at home because its what they are used to in business.

    As for being timid with the specs. I don't see what issue specs is! Its not specs that people care about, its how a product performs for them. Take consoles for example again. If it was specs were paramount why has the lowest specification games console won the last three generations of console releases. The PS1, PS2 and the Wii are all much lower powered than their respective rivals. Take Sky's worse quality picture compared to BSB in the 1990s. Take the lower performing VHS beating Betamax, Blu-Ray beating HD-DVD... Time and time again its not the quality of the specification, its the content and delivery of it that wins.

    Until some of the tech heads here understand the consumer, then I don't think they'll ever truely understand the tech market.

  • Comment number 14.

    As a user of Apple products, I find that usually Apple fills the perceived needs of a customer before the customer needs it. GUI, theirs has always worked better than the other guys. Who knew about the iPod? I use both platforms versions of Office, Word Excel Power Point, specificaly. Why does the Mac version seem to be more user friendly? I send stuff home from work just to knock out changes in no time. Dealing with photos or music on the Windows platform is like pulling teeth from an aardvark.
    Oh Well like they say Windows 7, Mac 1984.

  • Comment number 15.

    (apologies for the off-topic post)

    Hey Rory!
    I think it was you who interviewed me last week in a cafe ("an achingly hip San Francisco cafe" by your estimation - but come on, their coffee *is* good) for some story about whether Facebook and Twitter can make money. Is the story ever going to appear on the BBC website?

  • Comment number 16.

    Why, oh why is the apple fans defence always ‘well, Microsoft is worse’ Can you not argue an apple devices usage on merits? Children in a playground form better arguments. Fanatically immature ‘Fanboys’.
    Try to argue the point, why is this device important? Who is going to want to use it?
    What’s great about a laptop without a lid?
    The same arguments for or against any manufacturers tablets will probably be the same. Personally I think they are better classified as scratch-able netbooks.
    I’m betting that Apple will launch a modified OSX and ensure everyone has to re-buy their favourite ‘apps’.

  • Comment number 17.

    Hmmm. I certainly find the idea of an iSlate interesting.

    I love my iPod (was a fairly late adopter, and initially on windows platform). I bought an iPhone when the 3G one came out, and generally speaking, I like it, and I'm addicted to my amazon Kindle. Ive got Macbooks (mine) and Windows Laptops (work), and I find the whole experience more pleasant on the mac kit (I use MS Office, Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, and Garageband for podcasting), though both Mac and Windows environments have their good points as well as bad ones. Mac Kit's more expensive, but that just makes me consider purchases more carefully. Ive spent much more money impulse buying cheap kit and software for windows machines and then being disappointed with performance.

    Seems to me that an iSlate could potentially lighten my travel bag, so I'm keen to see what's announced, but that doesn't mean I'm gonna rush out and buy it on day one.

  • Comment number 18.

    @Elm1o
    "Can you not argue an apple devices usage on merits?"

    The device hasn't been revealed yet. I think that might have something to do with it. We don't even know this so-called "pointless device's" 'point' never mind its merits.

    But I agree, people should be able to defend/justify Apple products regardless of Microsoft's offerings, just as people should be capable of criticising Apple's products without always resorting to sneers about "fanboys".

  • Comment number 19.

    @ dotconnect,
    Its a Tablet, you know, a laptop without a lid. Been around for a long time. Its point? Do you need manufacturers to tell you its point? I'll give you a clue: It wont be making you cups of tea or drying your hair.

    As for the fanboy sneers, its a chicken/egg situation in which I'm sure the apple fanatics came first. I agree, its not a great term, but how else would you describe people who blindly support and defend a manufacturer without rational thought and sometimes knowledge.

  • Comment number 20.

    @Elm1o

    MP3 players had been around for a few years before Apple launched the iPod. Hard to believe but analysts had serious doubts about it back then. Could you have predicted its success in tandem with iTunes, its multitude of uses today, and the explosion of apps? People can argue about Apple kit being short on specs/features versus the upside of superior user experience - but often it's the business model more than the product itself that determines a product's success. This rumoured tablet device might well be a complete flop, but based on Apple's history (and influence in adjoining industries) I don't see how people can be so rash as to talk of "this pointless device".

    Btw I have no problem with the term fanboy. There are lots of them and they are indeed tedious. I do however tire of hearing the term constantly bandied around alongside criticism of Apple products. Perhaps it's time we also had a word for "people who blindly shun and attack a manufacturer without rational thought and sometimes knowledge."

  • Comment number 21.

    Of course people get excited when such an innovative, high profile company talk of bringing something new to the playing field. They have built up this reputation and have gained a successful following of so-called Apple fundamentalists and loyal users. They are not for everyone, but I actually like my iPhone, and my Macbook. I actually depend on them for a lot of things, and they have never let me down.
    I'm not sure where a tablet-based computer will fit into all this, but I have no doubt whatever it does, it will do it well.

  • Comment number 22.

    but based on Apple's history

    Not all of Apple's history is amazing, don't revise it.
    I had a Newton. It was an awful thing. The Psion was much better.

    While the iPhone has been huge in the US, Nokia still outsell it in the smartphone markets in the EU and others. The 1st generation did lack many basic features that other not even smartphones had for long before.

    3G was a huge omission for the European market, and no MMS? A 20 quid mobile did that. If they were that un-important, why add them later?

    Yes, the iPhone is a very clever device, but there have been mistakes in it's release. This is where comparison with the next big hype from Apple is perfectly legitimate with the history of the iPhone.

  • Comment number 23.

    @Tim

    Nothing wrong with an open mind just as there's nothing wrong with a sense of realism. Tablet's have been round for donkey's years and have a very limited appeal which is largely commercial rather than consumer driven.

    @Paul Kerton

    The irony of calling me a shill is breathtaking. Seriously.

    Incidentally, there's a small package called MS Office that Microsoft have released. Apparently it's been quite commercially successful and across both Apple and Windows based computers. You should check it out.

    Of course, you may not have heard of it being one of those 'free thinkers' who has chosen a Mac unlike the remaining 95% of the computer buying world who have been forced into using Windows because it's what they use at the office. Even, apparently, the ones who don't work in an office.

    Or maybe it just runs all their software on a wide choice of hardware? Who knows?

    @Elm10

    "Why, oh why is the apple fans defence always ‘well, Microsoft is worse’ Can you not argue an apple devices usage on merits?"

    Well since Apple don't you can't really expect their fans to.

  • Comment number 24.

    @Tengsted

    Not all of Apple's history is amazing, don't revise it.

    I wasn't.

    I could add several more Apple flops and failures to the ones you mentioned. Not everyone who makes a point in defence of Apple is necessarily an unthinking fanboy you know. ;)

    On the other hand, you'd have to be wilfully blind not to recognize the company's history in innovating and surprising and influencing as compared to, say, Dell or Toshiba or Nokia, as well as in storming new markets and getting big name partners on board for major distribution deals.

    Some of Apple's critics may not like it, but hype and fanboy devotion only go so far in accounting for their success over recent years. Acknowledging that success doesn't mean necessarily turning a blind eye to the turkeys.

  • Comment number 25.

    @Mark_MWFC

    There is no irony in saying what I see.
    Oh that'll be the Microsoft Office software that is so successful that they can't even sell it on their home turf anymore because of the patents they've so wilfully ignored... I don't agree with software patents, but you give as good as you get don't you?

    I think you'll find myself, I use all three major operating systems and take each one on their own merit, but for the consumer who hasn't had a computer in the past and wants to invest, I know what I'd recommend, and it certainly wouldn't be Windows.

  • Comment number 26.

    Another waste of money! It'll be something else in another few months, I'm sure Apple know now exactly what product they will be bringing out next year and it will be an upgraded iSlate. More fool you for getting it when it's released!

  • Comment number 27.

    @Kerton

    Err... it's actually MS Word 2007, not Office as a whole which, of course, doesn't detract from the fact that it's one of the world's most commercially successful products.

    Did you have any more irrelevant arguments or are we done on this point?

    As for systems, I have an old P4 box running Ubuntu. It's not been switched on in about two months which tells its own story. I have a Macbok running Windows 7 on the baiss that even without the driver support Apple failed to deliver it's still miles better than Snow Leopard from my point of view. I also have a Quad Core desktop running Windows 7 - it was running Vista whic his a fien OS, however 7 is better. So it goes.

    Why have I come back to using Windows exclusively? Well, call me mad, but I actually like being able to run all my software without having to switch operating systems and view that as a better option than, say, saving two seconds on a boot up or not having to run some light weight and unnoticable securityware.

    Horses for courses and all that.

  • Comment number 28.

    As usual, we have headed down the usual path of Mac windows tit for tat.
    The real question here is can anyone really see why Tablet/Slate devices will take off. e-readers aside (and remember they have a huge battery life advantage due to their low power) I can't really see why the form factor is appealing.
    However, if Apple throw the full might of their marketing machine behind it, a few ads 'This is how you download a book, a film, music, map' etc, I can well imagine the
    public going wild for it before they realize they don't need it.
    As with early Ipod's, it was Apples marketing that made them so successful. As has been argued before, the majority of the people who bought huge capacity Ipods had an average of only 10 CD's. Nearly all the music they download and listen to is on the radio. They don't need large capacity ipod's, but try to take it off them and they'll say different.
    When it comes to consumer tech, its about the marketing, not the function.

  • Comment number 29.

    Here is what I'm hoping from a tablet PC, Apple or otherwise:

    - That it will be lighter and more portable than a netbook
    - That it with have wireless and 3G built in
    - That I can use it as an e-book reader
    - That the user interface will be easy and intuitive to operate
    - That it will sync documentation into the cloud because I'm at the point now that between my desktop, netbook, iPhone, work laptop, work desktop and this tablet physical storage is no longer practical.
    - That it would have a touch screen with handwriting recognition so I can use it to take notes in meetings that would be digitised (that alone would make me buy the tablet, it's a huge need of mine and none of those pens etc seems to do it as well as I need)

    I don't really care about specs, if the tablet can do those things and I like the user experience I'll buy it so I'm interested in looking at both the HP and the Apple versions. I have to admit though that after seeing the brief HP demo I think Apple is probably going to win this one.

  • Comment number 30.

    Elm10, I see your narrow minded approach. To think everyone buys things just because of good marketing is just silly though. Like it's one big conspiracy? Not everyone in this world buy things because they are told to. It's like that pretension people have about buying something that's popular, even though it's popular because it's actually good at what it does.

    I buy things to suit my needs, not because I see an advert on TV. Mainly because I don't own a TV, because I don't need one.

    Wouldn't you say the Apple iPod was successful partly due to the seamless integration between software and hardware. It also looked modern and simple enough for people to understand. No other MP3 offered that at the time, so popularity favoured their unique approach towards playing and storing music.

  • Comment number 31.

    @ Ian Bolton,
    Hands up, I can be a cynic. But please understand that I am referring to average Joe Blogs here, and not everyone.

    Admittedly, a lot of mp3 players had, and continue to get it wrong, but there was and are many where they showed up as a drive and you dragged/dropped mp3 files to them. Cant be simpler than that can it?
    There were huge problems at first with ipods connecting to windows, long sorted out I would add.
    I seem to remember that someone worked out that it would cost $30000 to fill an 80GB ipod with legal music downloads. Admittedly, video is taking over, and the storage is becoming more practical, but for a long time it was just music.
    I can remember 15 years ago when Motorola was top of the mobile tree and seeing their next 5 models for release lined up at their research center.
    Tech firms rely on selling, then selling again.
    Its no conspiracy, its how the industry survives.


  • Comment number 32.

    i think i see it a little differently. 20 years ago people wanted value for money, they wanted everything for nothing. 10 years ago they wanted quality. Functionality that was worth paying that little extra for. Now it is almost taken for granted these things will work so we want innovation. New and exciting products that not only aspire to our basic needs, but do things far cleverer than we first imagined.

    The drag and drop MP3 player was problematic because of the varying formats music came in. People needed more control over the way they stored their music. iTunes pretty much sorted that. It's slow, buggy and winds me up, but so does a lot of things. The reason i bought my 60gig iPod was to store my music and use as a portable hard drive. It was perfect.

    Tech firms sell things through innovation. If they just kept repackaging old products people would eventually get bored. Innovation is the way forward and I'm sure the average Joe Bloggs will understand that one day.

 

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