Some excellent news popped up today. BT (the UK telecoms firm who launched secret and many believe illegal testing of Phorm’s technology) has announced that it will not roll out Phorm’s Webwise “product”.
That’s right, BT have dropped Phorm. You aren’t dreaming, I’ll say it again: BT have dropped Phorm
Here’s some of what The Guardian says about this news:
BT has decided not to proceed with rolling out Webwise to its 4.8 million broadband customers, dealing a heavy blow to AIM-listed Phorm. The company, which has received complaints from customers about Phorm, said the decision was down to its need to conserve resources as it looks to invest £1.5bn in putting a next-generation super-fast broadband network within reach of 10 million homes by 2012. Privately, however, BT bosses have been increasingly concerned about consumer resistance to advertising based on monitoring users’ online behaviour and specifically about the backlash against Phorm.
However, this is not a complete disassociation from Phorm, from Behavioural Advertising or from DPI:
“We continue to believe the interest-based advertising category offers major benefits for consumers and publishers alike,” said a spokesman for BT. “However, given our public commitment to developing next-generation broadband and television services in the UK we have decided to weigh up the balance of resources devoted to other opportunities.
“Given these commitments, we don’t have immediate plans to deploy Webwise today. However, the interest-based advertising market is extremely dynamic and we intend to monitor Phorm’s progress …before finalising our plans.”
Sadly this isn’t a sudden Damascus Road-like conversion to ethical business practices. It seems that Ian Livingston’s pages about the way BT does business are just spin after all.
But it is still a very large blow to Phorm. BT says it will be keeping an eye on the Behavioural Targeting arena. So will anti DPI campaigners. Be assured that this announcement does not diminish your part in the secret trials of Phorm’s technology in 2007. Anti DPI campaigners will keep watch on BT just as they have been. There is still a reckoning to be had.
In February 2009 Phorm CEO Kent Ertugrul was reported as announcing…
Phorm CEO Kent Ertugrul has announced his firm’s ISP-level adware system will “most definitely” be live across the BT broadband network by the end of 2009. BT seems less sure.
In an interview with the financial newswire Dow Jones, Ertugrul said: “We’re not able to comment on specific timings but our work with BT is the most advanced.”
“It’ll most definitely be online by the end of the year,” he added, commenting on specific timings.
A couple of questions come to mind here. Did BT give Kent Ertugrul prior notice of this announcement? How long has Kent known this was coming? Given the listed status of Phorm and the recent “advice” issued by Astaire Securities, if this was something Kent knew was coming, should the LSE and shareholders been informed?
This puts pressure on Virgin Media and Talk Talk. Whoever is sitting on the fence at Virgin Media must be in serious need of some Savlon or maybe something stronger for their backside which must now be very sore indeed. Their latest statement is another intended placatory which lacks any substance at all. If Virgin Media were confident in their analyses surely they would publish them? After all, they are claiming that they will communicate openly and transparently with customers. That wasn’t my experience. There are a lot of unhappy customers out there who are less than impressed with Virgin Media’s involvement with Phorm. Especially when there are legal issues involved.
There will be discussions about the timing of this announcement and whether it is intended to try and mask other issues for BT and Phorm. Methinks there are AGMs upcoming for both companies. Could be interesting if Ian Livingston and Kent Ertugrul are inclined to answer any questions openly and honestly.
Here’s Phorm’s share price as of 1349 BST today. 270p per share, down 43.16%
BT’s dropping of Phorm is good news but there is still reckoning to be had. The campaign continues.
The campaign message is clear and remains the same: No DPI based advertising.