RealTime IT News

Fletcher Predicts 121 Million Europeans Online by 2004

UK-based Fletcher Research has predicted in a new report that there will be 121 million Europeans online by 2004 -- representing 32 percent of the adult population.

The prediction, which appears in "Internet Europe: Connecting the Consumer," is likely to fuel still further the frenzy of Internet investment currently taking place on this side of the Atlantic.

However, Fletcher Research warns that despite around £25 billion ($40 billion) being spent online in 2004, Europe will be "many online markets, not just one honey-pot."

"Europe has the potential to become a larger Internet market than the USA, but the complexity of creating successful Internet business models across the continent will mean the marketplace will develop very differently," said Caroline Sceats, business analyst at Fletcher Research.

"Established offline businesses have a real advantage in Europe. They have the corporate funding and local distribution channels to set up Internet businesses with truly localised services. Providing a one-size fits all solution just won't be enough to compete effectively."

Countries that are likely to have the lion's share of the European market are:

Country Users in 1999: Users in 2004:
Germany 10.4 million 30 million
UK 10.6 million 25 million
France 4 million 18 million
Italy 3 million 10 million
the Netherlands 2.6 million 6 million
Spain 2.7 million 8 million

Fletcher Research believes that Europeans in different countries will use the Internet in different ways. The report suggests that Italians and Scandinavians are more likely to use wireless connectivity through mobile phones, whereas Benelux consumers will use digital TV and cable access.

Localisation, says the report, is expensive but effective -- and it requires more than translation to make an Internet business work in many countries. Businesses must take differences in culture, law and payment systems into account.

"Operating across Europe is not for the faint-hearted or shallow-pocketed," says the report.