European Online Market

Taken as a whole, consumers from Western European nations such as France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom are among the world’s keenest users of the Web.But there are still differences in the rates of Internet usage and broadband penetration from country to country. Take the UK, for instance.

”Of the five major Western European nations, the United Kingdom has embraced the Internet most avidly — it was the first of these countries to see more than half its population online,” said Karin von Abrams, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report Western Europe: Internet Users and Usage. “Though the French, Germans and Italians were slower to respond to the Internet opportunity, all three have reached 50% penetration and even Spain is growing now.”

In fact, in Spain the online population is actually growing more rapidly than in France, Germany, Italy and the UK in percentage terms, although from a much smaller base.

eMarketer estimates that this discrepancy will persist through 2011. As other major European countries pass 60% online penetration, Spain will struggle to reach this milestone. Meanwhile, the UK will race ahead to reach almost 75% online penetration.

Already the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports that over 60% of British households can access the Internet.

”However, as the Web becomes a commonplace tool for young people, students and the working population, one group of Europeans is in danger of missing the Internet boat,” Ms. von Abrams said. “With few exceptions, the growing ranks of citizens over 50 are not well represented online.”

According to Eurostat, while 73% of individuals in the EU-25 countries ages 16 to 24 and more than half (54%) of those ages 25 to 54 used the Internet regularly in 2006, only 20% of those ages 55 to 74 did.

The EIAA, “Silver Surfers Report,” released in July, indicates that Europeans age 55 and above who go online access a wide spectrum of information and services.

“Across the continent, consumers are doing more online and buying more than ever before,” Ms. von Abrams said. “But European business and national leaders must do more to ensure that consumers over 50 also benefit from the Internet revolution.”

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