Euro online market ‘will continue to lag behind US’

Claims that Europe’s consumer Internet market is in “catch-up mode” with North America have been rejected by Forrester Research, one of the leading Internet research groups in the US.

Speaking in London last Thursday, Emily Nagle Green, managing director of Forrester Research’s Dutch-based European subsidiary, said: “Compared with the US, Europe’s dismal uptake of the Internet shows no sign of improving in the next three years.”

Green predicts Europe’s online population will grow from four per cent today to 13 per cent by 2001. Meanwhile, Forrester predicts the percentage of population in the US online by 2001 will have grown to 40 per cent.

Among factors identified by Forrester as hindering rapid growth in the European Internet markets are that telecoms costs are about five times higher in Europe; Europeans remain reluctant to buy goods online; and higher labour costs are preventing the rapid development of online ventures and content.

Despite Forrester’s gloomy prognosis, Green predicts rapid growth in business-to-business e-commerce across Europe will continue. He suggests business trade will account for 80 per cent of Net commerce – a $64bn (38.8bn) market by 2001, compared with $206bn in the US.

But this e-commerce will still represent less than one per cent of European GDP – compared with the 2.7 per cent of US GDP which Forrester predicts e-commerce will account for by 2001.

The numbers of home-based Internet users finally outstripped business users in the UK for the first time in May, according to research published this week by BMRB International. The survey found 5.5 million users – 12 per cent of the UK’s adult population – have used the Internet over the past six months.

Forty per cent of respondents identified themselves positively as “home” users, compared with 36 per cent of respondents who identified themselves as “business users”, in the telephone survey among 1,000 Internet users.

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