The FINANCIAL — An executive Stéphane Richard with wireless operator France Telecom confirmed this morning that Apple Inc will soon release its tablet computer and that the device will come equipped with a Webcam.
According to The Independent, on the morning of January 11, French TV and radio station Europe 1 broadcast an interview with Stéphane Richard.
Richard, the second in command with France Telecom, owner of Orange, simply said "oui" to a couple of questions Monday about a tablet with a Web cam, as Apple Insider reports. When asked if Orange customers will be able to use Apple's tablet, he said, in French, "of course."
The confirmation from an executive whose company offers the iPhone in some 28 countries and territories is the latest in mounting evidence that Apple is about to debut it tablet, according to San Jose Business Journal. It follows a report on Friday that suppliers in Asia are ramping up delivery of parts that suggest the much-anticipated tablet will launch in the second quarter of this year.
Rumours about Apple's tablet date back to the early 2000's when Apple' was working on its Newton personal digital assistant devices, but have been increasingly prevalent in the last few months, as The Independent reports.
Orange previously had an exclusive arrangement with Apple to offer the iPhone in France, though the nation's competition counsel ruled that exclusive relationship to be illegal. But France Telecom still sold 200,000 iPhones in December, Richard revealed Monday in Paris, according to Apple Insider. Orange is primarily based in Europe and Africa. It is the fifth largest wireless carrier in the world, with more than 189 million customers.
Stateside, recent rumors have suggested that Apple could make its anticipated touchscreen tablet compatible with the Verizon network, the same source reports. It has been speculated that Apple could offer subsidized and non-subsidized options for customers.
Offering a tablet PC would help Apple capitalize on demand from consumers for devices that can surf the Web and play movies and music, according to Business Week. The product may also spark fresh competition for Amazon.com Inc., maker of the Kindle electronic-book reader, as well as makers of netbooks such as Acer Inc., Asustek Computer Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co.
Published reports have speculated the tablet could cost $1,000 and could include a Wi-Fi subscription. USA TODAY could not independently verify the reports, USA Today reported. An Apple tablet that is bigger than an iPhone and smaller than a laptop "is likely to be a terrific product, but unless it meets some need not currently met by a netbook or iPhone, it's a limited opportunity," says Charles Wolf, a longtime Apple analyst at Needham & Co.