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European Internet users to pass US by 2003 – IDC

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European Internet use will overtake the US in 2003, IDC predicted at the IDC European IT Forum in Paris this morning. At present, half the Internet users are in the US, and a third in Europe, but the 44 million European users will grow to 170 million by 2003 and equal the number in the USA. Six of largest 10 countries in the Internet economy are in Europe (and this will soon become seven), but the revenue generated is still only 10 per cent of the total Internet revenue. At present, no country has 40 per cent of its citizens online, but 14 countries will reach this position by 2003, and they will account for 50 per cent of the world economy, IDC predicts. Pat McGovern, CEO of IDC, saw Internet companies getting access to low cost capital during IPOs, as their value was being based on their ability to generate revenue rather than profits. Frank Gens, IDC vp for Internet research, noted that the number of Internet users had gone from 19 million to 150 million over the past four years, and predicted 500 million users by 2003. At that time, 62 per cent of US users would be online, and the value of Internet commerce would reach 7 per cent of the US GDP. To get to version 2 of the Internet economy will require the creation of an organisation that works effectively; willingness to spend at a higher rate than previously (perhaps half the start-up cost each year); more consideration as to how the organisation's web presence looks to users; reaching for the global market (which was regarded as desirable but optional in version 1 of the Internet economy); and being prepared to work with others to achieve sales. It was interesting that new start-ups often spend more on their web site than large, established organisations. IDC's message for the conference seemed to be that US companies would need to globalise now if they were to carry on their domination of the Internet economy, but nothing was said about the cultural differences, and the reluctance of European users to use credit cards online. ® Tune into Cash Register and turn on to our daily Net Finance News

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