SMS story gets soapy

German software company Materna, which produced the 160-word episodes, is now creating an English version.

"We think English will be as popular as [the German version] -- it is compulsive," said a Materna spokesperson. "The only problem is understanding the text language [and abbreviations] which can be rather complicated."

The soap opera is available from E-Plus -- but today is the last free day. After 31 May it will be available on subscription. Three stories are sent out daily, based on a group of fictional characters.

"The [soap service] sounds like a good idea," said a spokesperson at Vodafone. "Our faster GPRS models will let users take advantage of such a services allowing faster downloads." This could mean soaps with richer content.

GPRS has been labelled 2.5G, acting as a bridge between current GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) services and 3G (third generation), UMTS (universal mobile telecommunications system) mobile technology. Companies such as Vodafone are looking for content they can sell to ensure 3G is not a flop.

"Third generation technology is not likely to be available at consumer level for at least another year," said a Vodafone spokesperson. "GPRS enables users to enjoy faster, more efficient services now."

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