It's not going to be free, but it's relatively cheap: $3 per month. Sprint announced the new service on its site on Monday.
Sprint customers can choose any five-to-10-digit combination of numbers which spells out a word of some type assuming, of course, that the combination has not already been taken. Those with a “**” number can have it ring their phone, or, via a mobile app, send the caller an audio message or text linking to a social media or StarStar Me profile.
Google Voice has also allowed customers to create their own vanity numbers, but those are standard ten-digit long ones, and are limited in terms of availability.
To provide the vanity numbers, Sprint is teaming with Zoove, a Palo Alto-based start-up that has a registry of millions of such numbers. Until now, Zoove has focused on selling its “star star” numbers to businesses. However, sales haven't exploded - meaning that Zoove is sitting on a huge cache of unused numbers. With that, the company has realized that by ignoring a large opportunity by not targeting individual consumers.
And while this service is coming to Sprint, first, it's destined to hit the other Big Four carriers as well, if Zoove has its way. “We anticipate we are going to have the remaining three by the first quarter of 2013, if not by the end of year,” Zoove CEO Joe Gillespie said.