LONDON (CNNfn) - BP Amoco plans to connect thousands of its gas pumps to the Internet, allowing drivers to surf the Web as they fill their tanks, according to a published report Tuesday.
The London-based oil producer has signed a deal with pump maker Tokheim Corp. (TOK) to supply pumps equipped to access the Internet and display items such as traffic reports and weather forecasts, according to the Wall Street Journal. The pumps will use the Microsoft (MSFT) Windows CE operating system, which is designed to offer Web access to machines other than PCs.
Part of the attraction for BP is the potential for advertising revenues.
A Tokheim executive told the Journal that with the average pump serving 70 people per day, an ad on 100,000 pumps would reach 7 million people.
"Anywhere you're standing around, time to kill is an advertiser's dream," Chris Lewis, research director at Yankee Group Europe told CNNfn.com.
He praised the move as an inexpensive way of contacting Web users, and pointed out that content on the pump terminals could be customized.
As well as pointing out to customers special offers on goods available in gas station shops, the new access points could provide additional information.
Possible uses include "anything to do with driving or excursions, and local or national information," depending on whether the gas station is on a local road or a freeway.
Although the new venture is a far cry from BP Amoco's traditional businesses of drilling for oil and pumping it to the surface, Yankee Group's Lewis maintains, "You can't say anymore that there are any non-Internet businesses. Very few companies are not impacted by the Internet."
For the moment, BP Amoco will concentrate on saving management time, the newspaper reported, using the advanced technology to tell when the pumps need servicing.
Besides Windows CE, the newspaper said, the next-generation pumps also will use technology from Radiant Systems (RADS) to connect the pumps to convenience stores.
BP Amoco officials didn't immediately return calls seeking confirmation on the report.