October 2006
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Winner of X-Factor Revealed!

The winner of this year’s X-Factor will be Ben.

The simple reason – he has the easiest name to type on a mobile phone. VOTE BEN.  It works just fine with predictive text, and nobody is going to come close to spelling it wrong. These things are very important.  Last week’s evictees, The Unconventionals, were doomed before they got going. VOTE UNCONVENTIONALS. Their voting details stood out like a sore thumb against all the other text keywords. Even though predictive text (on my old Nokia at least) finds its way there if you can spell it at the first attempt, you are really going to have to like these guys to be bothered to vote for them at all.  I actually thought they were OK, and with a shorter name they may just have survived.

Today we saw the dismissal of Wolverhampton’s finest boy-band-on-a-TV-show, 4Sure. Their pre-match interviews have given us plenty of enjoyment remembering how Claire used to speak, and she’ll demonstrate that she still can add a "Y" sound to pretty much every woyrd if she trieys. VOTE 4SURE.  It is actually possible to do this all in one go with predictive text enabled if you press and hold 4 then type SURE but their name choice could have been better. Voters have to remember the clever pun that makes up their name, and then have to figure out how to type it.

Next week it must surely be either the grimfully dismal MacDonald Brothers, or Nikitta that suffers. Neither of these acts spell their name correctly – having it the same way as burger clown Ronald, or the girl from the Elton John song would help considerably – and neither work with predictive text. We end up with VOTE MACE? and VOTE MILITU? respectively. The MacDonalds’ time is next week. Surely. Please?

As for the rest of the pack, Dionne has problems (VOTE DINOME), Eton Road will struggle (VOTE FUNN) and Ashley needs intervention in order for the message to be sent properly (VOTE ASHLEX).  Ray is not as safe as he looks either, despite being the most likeable character on the show. VOTE RAY does get there fourth time, after cycling through SAY, SAW and PAY, but many texters won’t bother to look at their screens before sending. Coupled with the fact that he’s introduced as "Ray" but the huge scrolling banner lights on stage and the X-Factor web site announce him as "Raymond" (possibly a better choice, with no alternative spellings in predictive text), he might just lose a few thousand crucial votes when it matters most.  Similarly, Kerry will come in second to somebody named Jerry who is not actually in the competition.

The final three will be Leona, Robert and Ben. Having said all that, it’s worth pointing out that I don’t actually vote for things like this. I still think the idea of being charged 50p a time to cast a vote or answer a competition question is ridiculous. Instead of paying for a stamp to send in your vote, you’re paying the price of two stamps you don’t need, on top of whatever your normal text message cost is.

If I think back to when I used to enter competitions on Saturday morning kids TV, this would be like Philip Schofield asking me to send in my answer in on the back of a postal order.