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More Europeans move online


February 3, 1999
Web posted at: 5:46 p.m. EST (2246 GMT)

by Kristi Essick

(IDG) -- While it still trails the U.S. in terms of percentage of Internet users, Europe made great strides in the online world last year, according to new research from International Data Corp. (IDC).

Before 1998, many Europeans perceived the Internet as a domain for academics, scientists and technically minded people. However, by the end of last year, many considered the Web an important business and consumer information tool, IDC said.

Approximately 10% of Western Europe was connected to the Internet by the end of the year, but penetration rates varied greatly from country to country. For example, in Southern Europe, only about 2% of people are connected to the Internet, while in the Nordic countries, penetration rates reached one-third of the population.

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By 2002, IDC predicted, 35% of Western Europeans will use the Internet. This is about where U.S. Internet penetration is at currently, according to recent reports.

However, while Europe may have caught on to the Internet last year, Europeans still have far to go in terms of using electronic commerce. Europeans are wary of purchasing products online, and only 11% of European Internet users actually made an online purchase in the last three months of the year, IDC said.

In 1998, electronic commerce was worth $5.6 billion in Western Europe, but the majority of this figure is represented by business-to-business transactions, IDC said. However, the future looks brighter, with around 25% of Western European Web users expected to make purchases online by 2002, according to IDC.

More information on the study, "Internet Usage and Commerce in Western Europe 1997-2002," can be found at online at

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