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Orange snuffs out Wildfire

€148m up in smoke

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Orange is pulling the plug on Wildfire - its voice activated digital personal assistant that does all sorts of clever things on the end of a mobile phone.

The system drummed up an army of fans who relied on the voice activated system to take messages, place calls and store information. Like a "real" PA, Wildfire also became familiar with punters' "personal requirements" (ahem) the more they used it.

Snag is, the system ain't been doing so well lately and with the number of users falling to around 10,000, Orange decided that enough is enough and confirmed that the service will be axed from the end of May.

"Over the last eighteen months user numbers have declined rapidly and during a recent review of the service it became clear that Wildfire does not offer some key features that Orange customers have come to expect from their answer phone service," said Orange in a statement.

In the future all users will have to use Orange's bog-standard voicemail system.

One cusomer told us he was particularly miffed because Wildfire is the "only really safe way to take voicemail messages 'hands free' in the car".

A petition calling for Orange to reconsider its decision has been set up here and at the time of writing had amassed just over a hundred signatures.

Anyhow, spare a thought for Orange. It coughed up a whopping €148m ($142m) to acquire Wildfire Communications in April 2000 and now it's canning the service. Ho hum. ®

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