In a classic tale of “gotcha” journalism, France Telecom deputy chief executive Stéphane Richard seemingly confirmed the existence of Apple’s rumored tablet.
In an interview with journalist Jean Pierre Elkabbach, Richard twice interrupted with “Oui” when Elkabbach mentioned reports of an Apple tablet with a Web cam. When Elkabbach asked if Orange customers will be able to enjoy the product, Richard responded “Bien sûr,” or “Of course.”
Now, the PR team at Orange, which is owned by France Telecom, is scrambling to recover, telling MocoNews that Richard’s comments don’t count as confirmation, and that he was merely acknowledging the feverish speculation over an Apple tablet, which has yet to be confirmed after months of rumors. Standard PR denials apply: Richard’s comments were taken out of context, poorly translated, and so on.
It’s all pretty silly because if you’re willing to believe in rumors, there are plenty that have preceded this slip of the tongue. Famously, New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller referred to the device as “the impending Apple slate” at an internal meeting with his digital staff. There have been gobs of speculation from analysts, and on January 27 (or maybe January 26), Apple is reportedly going to hold a media event where all the rumors can be laid to rest.
Richard’s comments contain nothing we haven’t already heard. In or out of context, they would have been big news a few months ago, but now they’re just another twig in the fire.