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Europe Net Users Now Outnumber US/Canada 582

palefish writes "From this article in the Media Guardian: According to Irish-based industry monitor, Europe has almost 186 million users, while Canada and the US register 182 million. The difference may not seem substantial, but Europe is still a growing market. I've always thought of Europe as lagging somewhat behind the States in the internet uptake stakes (probably because some of our telecoms companies are yet to understand the internet). So, I don't know about you lot, but this statistic came as a bit of a surprise to me."
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Europe Net Users Now Outnumber US/Canada

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  • by fjordboy ( 169716 )
    Ok, this coming from a european based company?
    According to Irish-based industry monitor,
    That's like me saying that I did a study that shows that I'm the best.
    • That logic only holds if more = better
    • And what would you (or they) say if the same survey was made by a US company? If the company is reputable, that shouldn't change a thing to the results.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    get me the relative numbers!

    182 vs. 186 says nothing if you don't know how many live on each continent.

  • by forged ( 206127 ) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @10:11AM (#4227699) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps this poll [] wasn't representative either, then.
  • by billbaggins ( 156118 ) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @10:14AM (#4227731)
    AOL - the world's largest internet provider - has been assaulting the bastion of European access but has yet to find a dominant foothold in any single country.
    I can just see it... AOLTW's execs in a room with a big map of the world, pushing little plastic computer figurines around, planning their landing at Normandy, carpet-bombing Germany with those *(#$( CDs, sending commando troops east of the late Iron Curtain to aid the AOL insurgency...

    ...from the corner, a small voice pipes up... "Maybe it's the name. Maybe if it were something other than AMERICA online..." But the General gruffly puts the speaker down. "No. Europeans have absolutely NO PROBLEM with the idea of American hegemony. NONE. Shut up and get me more coffee."

    • I dunno if this is the case in Europe as well, but in Canada AOL never ever EVER markets with the term "America Online", they always call themselves "AOL Canada". I have never seen "America Cnline" in any of their Canadian TV ads, while all the ones on American TV say "America Online" as opposed to "AOL". I imagine they are trying this subtle marketing ploy in Europe as well, and probably failing as badly there as here (I know of NO ONE who uses AOL outof the hundreds of (Canadian) Internet users I know. Nearly everyone uses the telco as their ISP, which has far better rates and far better service.)

      • Indeed.

        In all the adverts and promotional material I've seen (at least in the last few years), and of course on all those stupid CDs, the company is called simply "AOL".

        I don't know about the rest of Europe, but here in the UK, they certainly seem to be trying to quietly let people forget their US roots.


  • There are WAY more people in Europe than North America. Even with a much smaller percentage of people online, it makes sense that there are more in terms of pure numbers.
  • CERN (Score:2, Informative)

    by BritInParis ( 569522 )
    oh, and BTW the world wide web was invented in Europe..
    • Maybe so, but Dan Quayle invented the internet. Just ask him.
    • by Jordy ( 440 )
      Do Europeans have a massive inferiority complex and fears of inadequacy?

      Yes, the world wide web was created by CERN. Yes, the people on the other side of the Atlantic do know how to invent things.

      News flash for you. Most Americans were originally from Europe. The only thing that keeps us ahead is our culture and corporate laws, not some mutation that makes hyper-intelligent beings the second they step onto US (or Canadian) soil.


      • The only thing that keeps us ahead is our culture and corporate laws

        Define "ahead"...

        not some mutation that makes hyper-intelligent beings the second they step onto US (or Canadian) soil.

        hehehe - you can say that again ;)
  • by phasm42 ( 588479 ) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @10:15AM (#4227743)
    The number of internet users in Europe may outnumber those in North America, but the total population also outnumbers North America by over 2 to 1. A quick Google, and I came up with 314 million for NA, and 727 million for Europe. Put in this persepective, NA still has over twice as many people online, but also leaves Europe with a lot of room to grow (and hence probably faster uptake in the future).
    • Probably the study only counts the parts of Europe that are EU members, so your 727 million is a little overestimated. In the EU, there are roughly 450 million people.

      Nonetheless, since this is still by 30% higher, it is no valid comparison with the US numbers.

  • Well it's not the UK (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DrSkwid ( 118965 ) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @10:16AM (#4227744) Homepage Journal
    (probably because some of our telecoms companies are yet to understand the internet)

    Ours tried to claim patent on Hyperlinks

    In other news [] :
    "Take-up of broadband in the UK lags pitifully behind other countries in Europe, according to the latest stats from Nielsen/NetRatings."

    UK Govt. sold off the monopoly telecoms company. We could have had fibre to the door from the profits but instead licences were sold to foreign investment. They have spectacularly failed to recoup their investment, not least because BT won;t open up the local loop. I have fibre to my street but copper to the door.

    OK hindsight is easy but selling the country's comms to finance slashing income tax wasn't really in the best long term interests of that market.

    It is correct that there was a lot of overcapacity of the workforce in the nationalised industries but why it takes private investment to sort it out is a mystery. Reducing expenditure and increasing profits isn't the only way to operate. Providing jobs with lower work rates is good for the emloyees.

    The promise of technology bringing more leisure time has come true. The unforseen consquence of that was that the time would not be evenly distributed. We now have millions of people without work and millions of people with too much work to do. Crazy.

  • by Ato ( 44210 ) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @10:16AM (#4227760)
    Something to bear in mind is that Europe is far less homogenous than the US when it comes to adoption of new tech (and a great many other things as well, I might add). Generally speaking, northern Europe has been on par with the US in internet use since years back, whereas southern Europe is just picking up speed.

    This, and the mere fact that the population base of Europe is larger than that of the US means that with time, as the market saturates, Europeans will certainly outnumber Americans (from the US anyway) on the net.
  • by wfmcwalter ( 124904 ) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @10:16AM (#4227761) Homepage
    I've recently returned to the UK after spending several years in Silicon Valley. When I left, dialup was metered and broadband unheard of. On returning, I've been pleasantly surprised by the offerings the UK telcos now have for internet access. Unmetered access is common, and at a price & quality equal to that I enjoyed in the US. Options (and prices) for broadband are considerably better than I enjoyed in Silicon Valley. I think the UK telcos (especially BT) finally get the internet.

    <grumble>Okay, I lived 1/4 mile from El Camino in Mountain View, and stupid PacBell said I couldn't get DSL (toooo faaaar). If you can't rely on broadband in the densest area of the world's technology capital - where can you?</grumble>

  • Germany (Score:3, Informative)

    by ArmenTanzarian ( 210418 ) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @10:16AM (#4227762) Homepage Journal
    A large part of the reason that Europe was lagging behind (at least from what I saw in Germany over the summer) is that internet is very expensive. Germans however are nuts for cellular phones (which are often cheaper to use than their home phones) and have ways of downloading music to them and burning that on minidisc. I was staying with a family that had an ISP but still gave me money to go to an internet cafe rather than use their service because it was so expensive. I believe the issue is that the government has allowed a monopoly on all existing phone lines and the only companies that can get around it are newer, like cellular providers.
    • A large part of the reason that Europe was lagging behind (at least from what I saw in Germany over the summer)

      German countries are all really different. You can't summarise about all of them by visiting just one.

      In spain DSL access is really cheap and common, for instance.
  • by balloonhead ( 589759 ) <> on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @10:17AM (#4227769)
    I don't understand the poster's point about European ISP not understanding the internet. We have BT, and they freakin' invented hyperlinks.

    All your internet are belong to us now

  • by Yet Another Smith ( 42377 ) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @10:17AM (#4227770)
    Since Europe is still larger than the Gringo-land by a fair amount, a somewhat smaller per-capita net usage stat will put the total number of users ahead of the US. Its still only in small countries with a concerted effort to push the internet that net usage per-capita tops the US. And that may only be in broadband - I don't remember off the top of my head.

    The US, between immigration and a rebounding birth-rate, will outstrip the population of Europe before 2050, if current trends hold. But net usage should be around 99% by then throughout the developed world.
    • "The US, between immigration and a rebounding birth-rate, will outstrip the population of Europe before 2050, if current trends hold."

      You have got to be fucking joking. And for once I'm using the word "fucking" in the correct context.

      Europe's population is approx 730 million people. The USA is approx 250 million. If you're telling me that the USA is going to TRIPLE in population in 50 years, then you're fucking mental! (ok, a bit of a stretch)

      • I was only talking about the EU. Not the continent. I don't know the overall figures, but the current EU population is around 500M, IIRC. The US is up around 280M right now. And the birth-rate in the US is back around replacement, while Europe is shrinking (down near 1.6). Add to that much higher immigration in the US, and its not hard to see the US overtaking a smaller Europe. However this does not include Eastern Europe, or the Balkans, except Greece.

        The Economist has a better explanation [] than I do.
      • from, these are estimates.

        European countries total 728,659,000
        U.S and Canada total 309,504,000
        Europe has 2.35x the population of Statsians and Canuks.
    • The US, between immigration and a rebounding birth-rate, will outstrip the population of Europe before 2050, if current trends hold.

      But by 2050, Russia will be part of the European Union... If we can't be better than you, at least we can be bigger...

      Only joking.
    • The US, between immigration and a rebounding birth-rate, will outstrip the population of Europe before 2050, if current trends hold.

      Yes, and by that time you will all be speaking Spanish.

  • Teletext (Score:3, Informative)

    by tsa ( 15680 ) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @10:18AM (#4227778) Homepage
    I heard somewhere that one of the reasons Europe is slow on the uptake of Interenet is that we have had Teletext since the early 80's, and therefore 'instant news' was regarded as not that big a deal here. Don't know if that's true, and another reason will certainly be the high telephone costs here in Europe.
  • According to The UN Population People [www.http], Europe has a population of 727,304,000. This is compared to the 270-280 million in the US. So, Europe practically triples the US in size. However, I think that if there were more European net users than US net users, then there would be FAR more hits on varius websites from Europeans than Americans. *shrug* I wonder if this NUA place is counting people that are behind firewalls in business networks and whatnot.

    • The percentile figures are not the point. Simple fact, more Europeans surf the net than Americans. Sure, you can make the stats say whatever you like, but, at crunch time, theres more of us (I'm in England).

      This was not the case until recently, evidently Europe is increasing net usage faster than the US (The US may be approaching saturation.. good for you guys). All in all, this is a good thing for European internet businesses.

      Its not a competition. The US doesn't _have_ to work the stats in their favour.
  • by Quirk ( 36086 ) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @10:19AM (#4227787) Homepage Journal
    Ah! A summer away from /. and I return to find the same stagnant backwater mentality. In a world desperately in need of a sense of community and, all the more so, in talking of a technology carrying with it the hope of *communication* the /. talk is of _them_ against _us_. O me, O my it's back to my cabin in the woods I go.
  • by Tom ( 822 )
    how about asia? they should be close, too. while the % of population online would be much smaller, the base numbers would be much higher.
  • by MattC413 ( 248620 ) <> on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @10:22AM (#4227822)
    Local American retailers have published a new study, saying that the reason that the economy isn't doing as well as it should be is because there are more people OUTSIDE this country than inside.

    A spokesman for the industry has been quoted as saying that it is time for Americans to do their duty, and have lots and lots of sex, especially with an overlooked segment of the sexual economy - geeks.

    A spokesman for Slashdot, when presented with this news, was heard to exclaim "Whoa.. sweet!"
  • by Draoi ( 99421 ) <draiocht@[ ].com ['mac' in gap]> on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @10:27AM (#4227870)
    Also from Nua;
    Asia-Pacific will have more Internet users than either Europe or North America by the end of 2002, according to a new forecast from eMarketer.

    The study indicates that there will be more than 180 million Internet users in Asia-Pacific by the end of the year, compared with 175.7 million users in Europe and 167.7 million in North America.
    More info here []
  • by repvik ( 96666 ) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @10:27AM (#4227874)
    There are a lot of differences between countries in Europe. Ireland sucks when it comes to internet infrastructure (There's barely broadband available) and the phone system sucks (I'm on a multiplexed line, so I get 16.200bps dialup). And there is no such thing as 'uncapped' or 'flat rate'.

    Compare that to Norway where flat-rate, uncapped broadband has been widely available quite a few years, with a VDSL test-project the last year. Or Sweden, where "Bredbandsbolaget" (Dunno if I wrote that correctly) can deliver 10mbps-lines to normal people.

    A few telecom companies are confused about internet. The Norwegian "Telenor" started building a *good* infrastructure back in the '70s. Ireland OTOH seems to have a hodgepodge of systems that won't quite work, or works slowly.
    • Ireland sucks when it comes to internet infrastructure (There's barely broadband available) and the phone system sucks (I'm on a multiplexed line, so I get 16.200bps dialup). And there is no such thing as 'uncapped' or 'flat rate'.

      You mean you don't have Eircom's wonderful 'High Speed' [] option - 2x64kB ISDN b-channels?? The pinnacle of modern technology!

      (I'd laugh only I'm being gouged by Eircom in paying a premium for their sucky ISDN. And they have the audacity to label it 'high speed'. Geez ....)

  • by ( 182125 ) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @10:29AM (#4227898) Homepage
    Well I don't know if this is true or not, but it sure seems pretty saturated in Scandinavia, where I live. I live in a town with 35K citizens and we have had DSL and Cable broadband available since early 2000. Everywhere I go (except most of the old folks read over 60) I find at least one PC and they are nearly always if not always on the internet. It is also getting into everything now. My homework and stuff from the university (I recently returned there to finish up my CS degree) I can get over FTP, all contact with the teachers and faculty in general is strongly encouraged to run over email. Our enrollment includes an university email address, our enrollment list has not only email but ICQ on it. And this goes for all faculties not just the CS and Engineering ones. There is a lot more (e-learning portal, webmail, information and so on) and they are constantly expanding (currently they are working on getting a complete wireless coverage, while they build the new university down by the sea). The student housings for the entire town offer 100 Mbit internal LAN and a mighty big pipe out (I don't know how big, but it is a leased part of a fiber) with all the student housings organized by the independent student housing organization (the school has no say over what goes on).

    So the internet has spread fully around here and again this is just a very small town in Denmark :)
  • Things have changed rapidly over here during the past few years, which is what the articles says when it mentions "growth".

    For example, there are now 2 competing broadband ADSL companies in my hometown, one offering 2mbit download, the other 1.5 (2x768). Both are flatrate. Other cities are very similiar, and it's selling itself. One company I know actually stopped all their advertisement because they were getting customers faster than they could handle.

    There are also Internet Terminals next to the public phones in many places, where you can throw in a or two or use your phone card and surf the web while waiting for your train. These, too, have appeared largely during the last year or two.

    Internet cafes seem to be closing, which shows that more people have access at home and just don't need them anymore. Those I know all get their major revenue from online gamers, not from people surfing.

  • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @10:38AM (#4227987)
    It really is no surprise to me. After seeing high speed internet access options dwindle in the heart of one of America's largest cities, Chicago, with DSL speeds decreasing and prices going up, thanks to our governments negligence and deliberate mismanagement [] of our telco industry, and finding to my surprise that rural canada has better quality DSL offerings than downtown Chicago, I am not at all surprised to learn that Europe, which would be hard pressed to mismanage their affairs even half as poorly as we here in the United States have, has taken the lead in internet connectivity.

    I expect Europe will take an even more dramatic lead, once their internet usage reaches parity with the US and canada on a per capita basis. After all, there are some 380 million people in the European Union IIRC, as compared with 276 million Americans and 31 million Canadians. Whether our FCC and our telco industry will ever figure this as a wakeup call remains to be seen ... I wouldn't bet on it, though, as they will likely use numbers like this to dismiss the fact that is apparent to anyone in the US who has tried to get quality high speed internet access: we not only aren't moving forward as fast as Canada, Europe, and likly much of the rest of the developed world, we are actually moving in the other direction, toward slower, less reliable, and less available connectivity.

    Thanks, Michael Powell. Any other industries you'd like to run into the ground while you're at it?
    • "Thanks, Michael Powell. Any other industries you'd like to run into the ground while you're at it?"

      Oh, I think it goes higher up in the chain of command than the self-styled "conservatives" in the Republican party care to admit. The New Republic article you reference mentions that Congressman Billy Tauzin (Republican and chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce []) is "unhappy" with Powell's actions in office.

      As an example of one of Powell's actions that's generally considered "bad," we have this article [] talking about a court decision a few months back:
      The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia handed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) its second defeat in three years over its revised rules on how telecom carriers are paid for handling dial-up Internet calls. The court ruled Friday that the FCC was wrong in an April 2001 ruling that excluded calls to Internet service providers (ISPs) from a compensation plan designed to pay telecoms for carrying calls on each other's networks.
      And the Republicans cried "Bad, Powell, Bad!"

      And yet, two years before, in the 106th Congress [], Congressman Tauzin introduced HR 4445, the "Reciprocal Compensation Adjustment Act of 2000." Interesting quotes from the bill include
      (A) IN GENERAL- Notwithstanding subsection (b)(5), after the date of enactment of this paragraph, no local exchange carrier shall be required to make any payment for the transport or termination of telecommunications to the Internet or any provider of Internet access service.
      So I ask you: Is Powell a "black sheep" in the "conservative" family, or simply continuing to support the Beloved Party?

      Disclaimer: I'm biased. I'm running against Tauzin for Congress.
  • According to this page [] (which hardly looks authoritative, but will do for rough estimates; consult these people [] to confirm), the world population by continent is something like, in millions:

    Africa - 794

    Europe - 727

    The Americas - 833

    Asia - 3,672

    That's Americas, plural, so that includes all of South America. So given that there are more Europeans than North Americans, it's not at all surprising that there are more of them online, given that Europe is quite a wealthy continent, and Internet use has not yet penetrated worldwide.

    What's more interesting is what's going to happen in the next few years, looking at these figures. There are relatively few Africans online, which is also unsurprising given how ravaged much of the continent is by war and poverty. However, only a tiny portion of Asians are online, but they and particularly the Chinese are adopting the Internet very rapidly. The Internet and the web is soon going to be a very, perhaps even overwhelmingly Chinese place.

  • Europe outstrips the US in cell phone usage and now internet because for years their governments have used the telcos to soak the consumer and several countries (the uk in particular) have never moved to flat rate service which is the standard in the US.

    What the new cell phone service and internet service does is allow consumers to get around their outragiously high traditional land-line phone bills (especially if the net access is thru satalite or cable) at least partially. Using email and instant messaging for communication in europe is just a whole heck of a lot cheaper than reaching out and touching someone using a telephone.

  • by anzha ( 138288 ) on Tuesday September 10, 2002 @10:52AM (#4228120) Homepage Journal

    How funny that poll is. If you're going to compare continent to continent, why are the Euros leaving out Mexico and the rest of Latin America. After all, if they're north of Columbia, they're in north america. I've also been told that, once you get past the border region, much of Mexico really is well developed.

    I have certainly come across plenty of latin americans in the years I've been online...

  • See look what hapens when you throw a bit of socilism into the mix.... Capatilism good?
  • In regards to all of Europe having more Internet users than the USA and Canada combined, we have to consider the following factors:

    1. Europe's total population is 350 million plus, and given that Europe is a highly developed continent technologically I'm not surprised that Internet usage has gone so high.

    2. Does the survey also include users of cellphones? If it does that skews the usage equation since cellphone Internet connections are usually done in short bursts, not the long, continuous connections you get with a desktop computer. Subtract the cellphone users and let's see how many Europeans are accessing the Internet using desktop/laptop computers via dial-up or broadband connections.

    However, I am happy that the European telcos are finally getting the message that one fee per month unmetered Internet access is the way to go. The fact I've read on this message thread that DSL access is rapidly growing in Europe tells me we'll see some very rapid growth in Internet usage in Europe over the next decade.
  • Maybe it's because Europe isn't as litigious as the US is. With all the software/business patents it no wonder things move slower here.
  • ASIA? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by nickmcghie ( 607554 )
    I don't have any hard numbers, but I'm confident there are a lot more net users in Asia. Living in Taiwan for the past many years, I've noticed that there is a FAR higher percentage of broadbrand users than in the US or Europe. Competition here is healthy with ADSL and cable modem services available for as low as $20/month. The Taipei City government even provides FREE dial-up access, so those with broadbrand can still get internet access. When returning to the US this past summer, I was very surprised how many of my friends rarely use the internet and how even fewer people have broadband.

    The US is WAY behind when it comes to anything hi-tech. Here in Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, etc., we get all the latest and greatest gadgets well before the US. In fact, many of the coolest cell phones, MP3 players, CD players, and other electronic gadgets never even appear in the US.

    Its really quite pathetic how behind the US is technologically (especially the consumers and general population). As I'm moving back to the US, I hope that they can quickly play catch-up to Asia!

User hostile.