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Happy Birthday, Orange

Ten years ago today...

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Nelson Mandela was on the verge of winning South Africa's first free election. Kylie was on the cover of Australian Vogue and Elle. The very first international conference on the World Wide Web was about to be held in CERN, Switzerland.

And Orange launched its mobile service in the UK. Ten years ago today, on the 28 April 1994, Orange - backed by Hutchison - launched its mobile service with the tagline "The future's bright, the future's Orange". It was the fourth player in the market, competing against BT's Cellnet, Mercury One-2-One and Vodafone.

The Independent breathlessly reported that the telephones "will also allow users to identify the incoming caller by showing a name or number on the display, although this needs to be approved by the regulator, Oftel".

Andrew Harrington, analyst at Salomon Brothers Hong Kong, told the South China Morning Post that Orange had entered the wrong market and was over-ambitious. Lead investor Hutchison would not see a return on its money, he forecast.

Other observers predicted that with more than 2m subscribers already, the UK mobile market was saturated. Orange now has 13.6m active customers in the UK and 49m worldwide The Orange brand was chosen from a short list which included Pecan, Gemini, Egg and Miro. ®

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