The European Internet is not yet a consumer medium according to Jupiter analyst Noah Yasskin.
Speaking at the Jupiter Consumer Online Forum in London, Yasskin claims Europe is falling behind the US because of metered access. Yasskin believes free access will be a key driver in getting European consumers online.
"The Internet in Europe is a metered network not a consumer medium," Yasskin said, comparing it directly to the US where ISPs are beginning to offer subscription-free and unmetered access. Yasskin believes AOL will be at the forefront of the drive towards unmetered Internet access in Europe, describing its decision to offer UK users one pence per minute access as a "smart move". He predicts AOL will offer completely free access in the UK within two years.
Brent Hoberman, managing director of lastminute.com agrees unmetered access will be the most important factor in driving consumers online in Europe. While many experts predict access will become irrelevant as interactive TV takes over as the medium for mass delivery of Internet shopping, Hoberman warns online retailers interactive TV will be more expensive than the Internet. "For convenience and premium products, interactive TV is ideal but for online retailers who regard price as a key factor it is not such a winner," he said.
Herbert Mayrhofer, managing director of online bookstore Libro Online agrees flat fee access will be a key factor in driving e-commerce and predicts it will be widely available in Europe within three years.
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