Expect one billion Net users by 2005

One billion people around the world will be using the Internet by 2005, with Europe and Asia competing for top position, according to IDC predictions.

LONDON (ZDNet UK)--One billion people around the world will be using the Internet by 2005, with Europe and Asia competing for top position, according to IDC predictions.

The recently published study--The Global Market Forecast for Internet Usage and Commerce--claims that 15 percent of the global population will be online in four years, driving e-commerce revenues up to US$5 trillion. This will represent 70 percent annual growth in Internet spending from US$354 billion in 2000.

"With the dot-com stock crash and US economic doldrums so much in the news, it's easy to lose sight of the explosive growth in Internet usage and commerce taking place below the surface," said John Gantz, IDC's research officer.

Internet usage around the world has traditionally been dominated by the US and Europe, but the IDC report predicts that by 2005, the pattern will become more widespread rather than being dominated by a single region. Last year, America had 34 percent of the world's Internet users, followed by Europe with 29 percent and Asia Pacific at 16 percent.

According to IDC, the balance of Internet users across the world will shift, where growth in developing countries in Asia Pacific and Latin American countries will quickly outpace Internet usage in more developed nations such as America and Canada. In 2005, Europe and Asia Pacific will be competing for lead position, while the US will be lagging behind in third place.

This trend is likely to be mirrored in global e-commerce revenues. The US currently holds nearly half (46 percent) of the global market share in e-commerce, but this is forecast to drop to 36 percent in 2005. Growth in e-commerce will be healthy in all other regions, but Asia Pacific and Europe will grow the fastest between 2000 and 2005.