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Virgin Mobile is to launch a text message flirting service on Valentine's Day as part of a new focus on "adult services".

The mobile phone operator has created a new team to probe the opportunities of adult-orientated content and services.

Those behind the service claim it will let mobile users "flirt, tantalise and tease other mobile users by anonymous text messages".

Of course, the fact that each text message costs 10p a throw should not overshadow the fact that this is yet another attempt by Virgin Mobile to establish itself as the "network for cheeky fun".

And any suggestion that this is simply another ruse to get people to part with their cash and increase revenue for Virgin Mobile is "cynical", according to a Virgin spokeswoman.

No matter. Virgin Mobile maintains that the service is merely a progression of what people already do with their mobiles.

Of course, Virgin Mobile isn't the first outfit to twig that text flirting could be big business.

UK-based CosmicCupid launched its text flirting service in June 2000 and now handles 500,000 text messages a year for its 50,000 users.

John Farmer, commercial director of Cosmic Cupid told El Reg: "Most opportunities [for mobile services] lie in communication and entertainment... and flirting embodies that for the consumer." ®

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