IDC: Half of Western Europe to Be Online by 2003

STOCKHOLM (04/05/2000) - Internet usage is soaring in Western Europe, with 215 million people, or more than half of the region's population, to be online by 2003, according to new research from International Data Corp. (IDC).

After almost doubling in size in 1999 to reach 81 million by the end of the year, the online population of Europe will continue to grow rapidly -- and the good news for electronic commerce vendors is that online spending is set to grow even faster, IDC analysts predict in a new report titled "Internet Usage and Commerce in Western Europe 1998-2003."

Online spending in Western Europe is expected to reach 124 billion euros (US$118.6 billion) in 2003, as compared to a mere 10.3 billion in 1999, IDC said in a statement issued yesterday.

Even then, the majority of the region's Internet users will still not be regular buyers of products and services over the Internet, but IDC expects the percentage of users who regularly will be spending money online to rise to 20 percent by 2003. Although some 15 percent of users in 1999 made an online purchase at least once every quarter, only 3 percent did so on a regular basis, which probably reflects a lack of trust in online vendors and purchasing processes, IDC said.

The expected rapid deployment of new non-PC Internet access devices will in part help fuel Internet growth in Western Europe, IDC said. The PC is currently the main Internet access device throughout Europe, where a total of around 45 million such devices have been deployed. IDC expects this number to triple over the next four years with alternative access devices, such as screen phones and set-top boxes, to supplement the PC to an increasing extent.

There are also variations in Internet usage across the region, with the Nordic countries continuing to lead the pack with Internet penetration rates of between 36 percent and 45 percent, IDC said.

The U.K., Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands are not far behind the Nordic leaders, which according to IDC are about one and a half years ahead of the European average, while usage in countries such as France and Italy is growing much faster, albeit from a smaller current penetration rate.

Portugal and Greece, meanwhile, are seen as the region's laggards, and the two countries are according to IDC some four years behind the European average in Internet usage.

IDC is owned by International Data Group Inc., the parent company of IDG News Service.

IDC, in Framingham, Massachusetts, can be reached at +1-508-872-8200, or via the Web at http://www.idc.com/.

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