European countries are on course to the "magic" 20 percent penetration mark needed for the Net to become a viable retail channel, according to Dataquest analyst Petra Gartzen.
"There's been a lot of doom and gloom surrounding Europe's ability to compete in the global e-commerce market and whilst there is still some way to go, we are beginning to see real signs that the situation is changing," Gartzen said.
The Nordic countries have already hit 20 percent penetration, with the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and Austria not far off. Gartzen is heartened by the fact that Internet-sceptic countries, such as France and Italy, are now "waking up to the Web" and the Net is experiencing unprecedented growth in Eastern European countries.
In 1998 there were more than 3 million users in the UK. Competition among ISPs is major factor driving users on to the Net, Gartzen believes.