Internet Industry Surveys Abound

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The Internet is rapidly becoming the most surveyed industry on record. Here are three more covering Ireland, European Internet services providers and the Fortune City Network:

Amarach consultants predicted last month that Irish consumers would buy goods worth 736 million punts, or $868 million, in 2002 compared to 38 million punts, or $44.8 million, last year.

"ISP Markets: Western Europe," a new service from British Analysys, reported that last year, the number of Internet service providers in Western Europe's major 16 markets grew by 33 percent to 3,000.

Media Matrix ranked Inc., a company listed on the new market in Frankfurt, Germany, as the eighth largest in Germany, as 13th in France, 14th in Sweden, 16th in the United Kingdom and 24th in the United States.

The Irish numbers are small and represent an increase in Internet buying from 2 percent of Irish adults last year to 7 percent in 2002. Ireland has 600,000 people on the Internet, but only 60,000 bought anything on the Web over the last three months -- zero change over the year.

"The e-commerce culture," the survey concluded "has evidently yet to find a home amongst the Irish." It noted that not even the Christmas season pushed users to buy more online.

Average purchases over the last three months totaled 160 punts, or $188, with books and compact discs the most commonly bought items. Amarach found that lack of credit cards was the biggest online problem.

Only a third of Internet users have credit cards, and many of them are students or too young to qualify for much credit. "For e-commerce to become a true powerhouse, new means must be found of putting credit into young hands," the survey said.

The Analysys survey said the number of Internet subscribers rose by 75 percent last year to 34.5 million while users were up 69 percent to 64.3 million.

Penetration rates differed sharply last year, the survey found; although, some of its 1999 figures have long been overtaken.

Thus, it said that 42 percent of Swedes and 39 percent of Norwegians were online, while this spring, Swedish penetration has been estimated as high as 60 percent and Norway's well past 50 percent.

However, few would argue with the number of Italians and Greeks said to be online -- 9 percent and 3 percent respectively. The United Kingdom is another matter: Penetration is surely higher than 25 percent.

Analysis warned that paid ISP growth this year would be limited by the growth of free access services and as a result "the economics of the Internet industry have changed dramatically.

"Within the dial-up market, revenue from Internet access is starting to disappear. Companies are being forced to absorb the cost of free-access provision and regard it as a marketing cost for other revenue-earning services, such as advertising and e-commerce."

Fortune City, finally, used the Media Matrix ranking to claim that it would "be ranked well within the top 15 of all Internet companies on a pan-European basis, if such rankings were available."

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