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Orange kills Wildfire - finally

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Orange yesterday pulled the plug on its Wildfire voice recognition service.

The cellco had planned to terminate Wildfire at the end of May but delayed closure, in response to a barrage of complaints. It had underestimated the strength of feeling from loyal Wildfire fans - in particular blind and visually impaired users who relied on Wildfire to make their calls.

The cellco - owned by France Telecom - blamed declining numbers for its decision to ditch Wildfire.

Orange paid €148m ($142m) to acquire Wildfire Communications in April 2000.

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" the more they used it. ®

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