As we enter a new millennium, Europe's Internet population has soared to 81 million, double the figure at the beginning of 1999. Around 15 percent of those surfers are putting their hands in their pockets to buy goods and services online -- to a tune of e10.3bn (£6.2bn).
IDC analyst Stefan Elmer expects this figure to rise to e125bn (£75bn) by the end of 2003. He also expects the number of people shopping online to grow to around 20 percent of the whole European population -- currently only 3 percent of the population is online.
"This probably reflects the lack of trust in the shops and online purchasing processes," Elmer says. He believes the rapid growth in access devices -- there are currently around 45 million Web access devices in Europe -- will triple over the next four years.
"Currently the PC is the main Internet access device, but we believe alternative access devices such as screen phones and set-top boxes will supplement the PC," Elmer believes.
Currently the Nordic countries -- Sweden, Norway and Demark and Finland -- have the highest Internet penetration in Europe with around 36 to 45 percent of the population wired. Germany, the UK, Austria, the Netherlands and Switzerland are just ahead of the European average, while Portugal and Greece are Europe's laggards -- four years behind the average.