Rumour Mill I: Is Orange planning a cheap tablet?

Reports in the French press claim that Orange is working with a 'large Asian manufacturer' to launch its own Android tablet in time for the Christmas market. According to the French financial newspaper Les Echos, Orange wants to bring out a 3G-enabled Android tablet device on a pay-as-you-go tariff for less than 250 Euros (around £205).

If true this would massively undercut even the cheapest 3G-enabled Apple iPad which is selling for £529. The cost could fall further, perhaps to as little as 100 Euros (£80), if subscribers sign up for a one or two-year contract. Orange has been down the own brand tablet route before. Last year it launched the Wi-Fi Tabbee with little success, however an Android tablet would be a very different kettle of fish. The newspaper report quotes France Telecom, owner of the Orange brand, as saying it is keen to 'regain control.' The Apple business model means that it has huge power over the networks which sell its products and by going for its own tablet Orange will not be 'bound and gagged' by the conditions imposed by Apple. Orange will also be offering, according to Les Echos, a subsidised iPad and another Android device, possibly the new Samsung Galaxy Tab, as well as its own custom made product.

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