Europe not sold on Internet at home

Not enough PCs

ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

Europe's love affair with the Internet may never become as intense as that between US citizens and cyberspace, according to the latest eEurope benchmarking report of the European Commission.

Although there has been a dramatic rise in household Internet use in the EU, rising from 18% of households in March 2000 to 39% last December, the EC thinks this rise increase could be flattening.

This is a respectable rate of growth, yet it still lags behind the US, the EU finds, suspecting that a key constraint on home internet access may be the low rate of home PC ownership in Europe compared to the US. In those EU nations where home PC ownership is commonplace, home internet use has grown to 60%, more in line with the US.

However, this may be as good as it gets. In Europe internet access at companies with more than 10 staff is now approaching 90%, so that many citizens probably access the internet at work, and feel no need to do so from home, where the cost of internet connection is still generally higher than in America.

There are other complicating factors that the EU notes could be contributing to a skewed view of the internet in Europe. The continent's love affair with the mobile phone, now increasingly a platform for internet use, is one, and the emergence of interactive, potentially a powerful medium for internet access of the future, is another. It may yet be that Europe is not so much internet averse, as unimpressed with the PC as the main vehicle for accessing it.

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