When I was doing some late night shopping in Tesco tonight I came across a curious piece of technology. Well it might be curious to the non-geek anyway. The device in question is what Tesco are calling a “Tesco Internet Phone.”
There were two models to choose from, one a wired USB handset at around 15 pounds and a cordless, USB handset at around 30 pounds. At first glance these little phones appeared to be quite cheap and nasty gadgets, but closer examination of the boxes brought understanding and some irritation.
These phones that work via VOIP or Voice Over IP which is the same technology behind the popular internet telephony application Skype. The internet telephones appear to have been designed to be somewhat idiot proof with extremely basic instructions and information on the packaging.
One thing that shocked me while examining the features of these phones is a clearly stated incompatibility with Macs! This seems to be a marketing error what with the growing popularity of Apple computers both in and outside the geek world partly due to their embracing the Intel processors and the ability to run Windows operating systems. Why would a company like Tesco who are making inroads into the United States with corporate grocery selling power with such a bright vision of the future ignore such a large force in the internet using market?
Tesco’s reasoning may have some basis in market research. The fact is there are more PC users than MAC users. But most USB devices are compatible with both platforms and it is strange to see a brand new product so blatantly incompatible.
I would like to test the functionality of these “Internet Phones” for myself. I would like to see if the quality is anything as good as Skype is on a good day, partly because as it appears you have to pay for general use of the service. Luckily, there is an offer in place at the moment where you receive 5pounds worth of airtime when you purchase a new USB phone.
If you would like to find out more technical details or buy one of these phones point your browsers to Tesco.