It's almost worth signing up for a "3" voice phone contract: the opportunity to see if SpinVox can, really, turn incoming voicemail into incoming texts.

The news came on the same day that Orange killed its voice-to-commands service, WildFire.

A cynic might suggest that it was a sneaky way for the Hutchison 3G phone operator to boost its SMS text revenue, of course. Or, maybe, Hutchison's bosses have definitively heard of plans to ban voice calls on airline phones, forcing users to use the Web, IM and SMS?

Whatever the explanation, SpinVox CEO, Christina Domecq is sticking to the theory that it will work, and will be popular: "Over 80 per cent of people who sign up for this, for a free trial, stay with us."

The service was launched October 2004, and has recruited 25,000 users, said Domecq today. "Partnering with 3 gives us an exciting opportunity to enable even more people to try it out." Three million, in fact, according to the official announcement.

The NewsWireless "3" phone battery turned out to be flat when the announcement came in, so tests here will come later in the week; but other observers have been excited. SpinVox was awarded "best innovative service" at the Mobile News Awards 2005.

Details of the trial http://www.spinvox.com/ are on the SpinVox web site. But you don't have to sign up with 3, in fact: you can have a week's free trial with any contract phone.

The excitement of 3's Marketing Director, Graeme Oxby, may not be contagious. He said: "This is one of the best new voicemail services in years. Our customers want to get their messages wherever they are, so even if they're at the cinema or tied up in a business meeting they're never out of touch with this innovative voice-to-text service."

That'll teach him to offer free voicemail, probably. The obvious solution to incoming voicemail in the cinema is probably not to receive an SMS, but to simply switch the phone to vibrate, and put the voicemail number on fast dial. That way, you can listen to the voicemail directly, and nobody else will be able to hear it; and you'll be able to watch the movie...

It should be noted that SpinVox is a supporter of Save the Children, donating £1.00 to Save the Children for every new SpinVox user.

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