I’ve been using Wildfire as my mobile answering service for the last six years, but I got a letter last week to tell me that the service is being withdrawn very soon. Since I’ll be away when the final switch off happens, I’ve had to change to their standard answerphone sooner, so I’ve uttered the logoff command for the last time.
“Thank you. Goodbye.”
This is very sad. The system was clever, intuitive, and it did things that simply aren’t available with any other answerphone. Now, if I’m checking my messages when someone calls, they won’t be put through to me, just asked to leave a message. I can’t use hands-free dialling any more. I can’t demonstrate the silly side of the system by asking her to ‘Do me a favour’.
It’s not the first time that Orange have scrapped a useful system. They used to have a wonderful service where you could forward incoming calls to a real person who would take a message and text it to you. That was scrapped, they told us, because of the cost. Now Wildfire goes the same way. How expensive can it possibly have been to keep one box running?
There are several groups of people on the internet who are not happy, with savewildfire.com and a site concentrating on the impact on people with visual impairment. There’s also a petition, although so far, only a tiny fraction of the 10,000 remaining Wildfire users have signed it.
The sad thing is, Orange are really killing this project. In 2000, they bought the company that made it for €148m. So if Orange aren’t doing anything with it, who will?
This suggests there are some other networks with the system still running, and something I read suggests that Orange in the US is still offering it.