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The development of ecommerce in Europe will continue to lag behind Northern America because Europeans are far more socially sophisticated and enriched than their red-neck US cousins. That's because US Net users have little else to do with their spare time other than stay glued to their PCs in search of entertainment or in the hope of finding some fleeting, yet distant, human interaction. Europeans, on the other hand, "have a life" and enjoy a far wider range of activities, according to Fabiola Arredondo, MD of Yahoo! Europe. Speaking at a round table discussion on the shifting landscape of Europe's wired world at the fifth annual Jupiter Consumer Online Forum Europe, she said that there are many "cultural and generational differences" between Net users in the US and Europe. "People in Europe have a life," she said. "They are not just hooked onto the Net as they are in the US." "Usage levels in Europe will lag behind the US for the next 10 years because Europeans have a life outside the Net," she said. Her views were endorsed in part by Tony Salter, CEO of the Boxman Group, which sells CDs and videos online, who spoke of the cultural differences between the two continents. Of course, the serious point the delegates were trying to make was that people in Europe only use the Net for seven hours a week or so. In the US it is much higher. The more people stay online, the more chance they have to buy goods and services. It doesn't take a highly paid Internet business consultant to work that one out. Martin Dunn, editor-in-chief of Associated New Media, was realistic about the challenges ahead. Agreeing with Arredondo, he said: "We do have lives in Europe but it is up to us to convince them that people can have an even better time online than going down the pub." His opinion got a laugh, but only just. ®

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