Good afternoon grappling fans. It’s taken an extra couple of weeks to have the broken glass elements swept up and the ring re-sprung after the inaugural clash two weeks ago between Nikon and Canon, but floor -32 of the sub-sub-basement of Shiny Towers is open once again for the bloodiest match-up in the world of the chipset smack down – Technology Deathmatch.
There’s a chill in the mouldy air today. It’s two-for-one at the arena with many of the rich, foreign businessmen abroad or in offices with their accountants assessing the damage to their stocks, but with cheap entry comes a cheap crowd: Guinness soaked mothers with their screaming children, gangs of late thirty-somethings waiting for Mecca Bingo halls to open and sacked City traders at the hollow ends of long vodka bottles just looking for a way to forget.
They cry blood, they scream, “entertain us” and that’s exactly what they’ll get in the ‘Battle of the Mobile VoIPs’. Telecommunication giants were twitching but now it’s the mobile operators that are all a-mutter with the rise of new ways to bypass their networks. There are many companies jumping in as mobile middlemen but today, going toe to toe, are two very different contenders.
In the blue corner with thinned turnbuckle pad and rusty post is the young contender from the streets of Maskina in Olso, Norwary is the Nokia favourite, the Scandinavian SIP supplier – Vyke!
And in the red corner with the embedded second molar and that stain we just can’t shift is the people’s champion, the company that’s looking to turn the ground on which we tread into a superstore – Tesco and their TalkWi-Fi!
I’m your referee for the day and I expect a good clean fight. I don’t want to see any call drops, no button fingering and definitely no trash talk. Now, let’s get it on!
Round One – Cost
It’s a simple question really but one both of these light-flexible middle-weights have had to bob and weave about in training to gauge their fitness just right. Price too high and they’ll be undercut. Price too low and their own tiny margins will push them out of business even if they can grab a piece of market share.
The two lithe contenders duck in and out with their Nokia handset bodies dodging ghosts of punches before they’re even thrown. Half-eaten apples and screwed up paper missiles littler the stage as the restless crowd cries for blood but neither fighter bats an eyelid, so fixed on his man, so focused deep inside each other’s souls.
Vyke lands the lightest of jabs onto the QVGA of its opponent; a bop on the nose for Tesco whose app will only work on the Nokia E51, N81, E65 and N95 at the moment, while Vyke can run on all E and N-series handsets.
It’s a cheeky punch, a right hand lead. Something that should have left Vyke just as open to attack given that Nokia, although large, by no means represents the majority of handsets, but Tesco is too blind to see it. The dented pride of the supermarket giant is more the shooting pain than any real damage done by the blow, and through a rage of tears it leaps forward into the fray before thinking that Vyke has little defence on the same point.
Fists fly at the small Scandinavian but it dodges the furious railings and sends Tesco flying into a tangle in the ropes with a swift boot to the battery casing. Tesco TalkWifi may be promising to move to other handsets but they’re not doing it as fast as Vyke. The N81 and N95 are all very well but they’ll be out of date shortly. The N96 is already in the shelves and, as yet, still no word on expansion from Tesco.
A greying tramp, taking refuge in the ringside warmth, rises from his broken seat and untangles the retail giant from the ropes breathing whisky soaked words of soaked encouragement. This round is about pricing and the crowd wants a fight. “Enough with the foreplay,” he says.
Back in the ring Vyke dances round, stretching its QVGA from side to side while TalkWiFi breathes sweat through gritted teeth, stock still eyes on its opponent just waiting to land a hard, crunching hit.
While a standard PAYG operator may charge 20p/min for a normal voice call, Tesco TalkWiFi costs just 10p/min when making calls to UK mobiles over the internet and only 2p/min to landlines in the UK, US, Singapore, Hong Kong, China and Canada and, knowing its advantage over traditional mobile charges, it grabs Vyke and swings it the by Carl Zeiss lens casing towards the rusty, unpadded turnbuckle.
But there’s a glint on Vyke’s 3.5mm jack as the fighter stamps his heel into the canvas and takes control of this death spin. Tesco’s murderous glee turns to horror as it realises that Vyke is a cheaper service altogether.
The smaller challenger hurls its opponent headlong into the solid lump of iron with a sickening church bell chime silencing the crowd for the first time since they entered the Deathmath Basement, but only for a second until the trickle of inky black LCD fluid sends them into raptures once more. At last. Blood, and as the bell goes for the end of the round, TalkWiFi is dragged back to its corner with Vyke’s tariffs spinning round its head like birds.
There’s the same 2p/min rate over VoIP with Vyke calls to similar foreign countries but landline calls within the same nation are free with only a 2p connection charge to pay. The mobile call rate is cheaper too – only by a penny but 9p/min is still better than 10 and the round goes to Vyke.
Calls from TalkWiFi to TalkWiFi and Vyke to Vyke are, of course, free while both parties are online and messaging in this instance becomes IM as well. However, Vyke texts to non-Vyke users are only charged at 3p. There is no such discount with TalkWiFi.
Round 2 – Convenience
Patched, staggering but refusing to give in, Tesco takes to the centre of the ring again as the bell goes for the start of the second. Vyke may prove it’s cheaper but it’s all for nothing if no one can use the service. This is the round the true Deathmatch spectators have been waiting for and they shove the chocolate-faced children and grumbling fish wives out of the way as they prowl their ways to the front.
Before the two fighters even swing a punch the ring is overcome by the shouting crowd. They mob the two providers in their need for answers. Screams and missiles become kicks and punches from unseen arms and legs and the fighters are swamped.
“How often am I going to be in a Wi-Fi zone,” shouts the crowd, “what am I going to do the rest of the time?” and as much as the two have to say in response, as many times as they try to reply, their open mouths are filled with fists and and their thoughts and good intentions are battered from their heads.
The mob doesn’t care that over 60% of mobile calls are made from either home or work where there’s usually a wireless network. They don’t listen to the fact that you set up your handset to automatically make VoIP calls when in these environments because no matter how adjust your phone, there are just too many options for it to do the right thing every time and so often do you have to tell it to make an internet rather than a voice call.
All the mob sees is having to gather more wireless keys, issues with work servers and their security settings; interference and dropped calls. The mob sees extra hassle and without enough of a saving.
It’s no good for either fighter now floundering in the chaos but Tesco’s trainers reach in to rescue their champion from the melee and make for the safety of the dressing room. It’s Vyke who takes the brunt of the anger crumpled in a heap on the canvas as boot after boot comes in to the keypad and screen and battery casing – every part of the body.
You have to dial all your numbers with the international dialing codes on Vyke which may mean switching over all your contacts manually. This isn’t so with TalkWiFi. The quality of the call is relatively bad on Vyke with it feeling like you’re speaking to a foreign country with every call you make – from the ring to the automated voice and even, to some extent, in the quality of the call itself.
Both services drain more power scanning for wireless networks and in general require much more attention than a conventional phone and even though Vyke works for free with the Cloud’s Wi-Fi hotspots, elsewhere in public it’s often not possible to access the internet unless you’re able to open a browser on the phone to set up payment first.
It’s just too much hassle right now and although both services are an excellent idea, neither the infrastructure nor the operators themselves are quite there yet. And these two aren’t the only contenders. There’s the likes of Skype and Fring all coming at the problem from different angle but so far no one has hit it right.
With all hell breaking loose in the arena, it;s time to hit the buzzer for the boys in the black puffers to come down. Sinbad, Ivan and Furio crack their knuckles with a smile as they spring down the steps to the ring, their shaved heads and brylcreemed pony tails neither move nor break a sweat as bodies in their paths go flying. The remains of the crowd flee in terror until the ring is empty once more. It may be time to rethink two-for-one day down here on floor -32 – or at least get some tougher fighters.