Orange kills Wildfire - finally

Ashes to ashes

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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