$400 billion seen in e-commerce

Despite modest growth in purchases online, revenues will come to $400 billion by 2002, a new report says.

Despite modest growth in the percentage of Netizens making purchases on the Web, e-commerce revenue is expected to hit $400 billion by 2002, according to a new study by research firm International Data Corporation.

The figure was estimated in a study predicting global Internet and e-commerce growth from 1997 to 2002.

An overall increase in Web users around the world will be the main stimulus for the robust e-commerce revenues expected over the measured period. IDC predicted that the global Net audience will jump from 100 million by the end of 1998 to 320 million by 2002.

During this period, the percentage of Web users making purchases online will grow from 26 percent in December 1997 to 40 percent in December 2002, the firm said. Although the actual percent difference is modest, the actual number of Web users who will purchase goods online will shoot from 18 million in 1997 to 128 million in 2002. This is a promising figure for Web companies hosting e-commerce resources on their sites.

The study also showed that the number of devices used to access the Web will also increase significantly, from 78.1 million in 1997 to 515 million in 2002.

Migration onto the Internet will continue despite the sagging Asian economies that have wreaked havoc on nations and stock markets around the world. Ironically, IDC expects Asia to show the strongest growth in the number of users coming online as well as the number of devices purchased to get them there, the study said.

"The growth in the number of devices and users on the Web will continue practically unabated through the forecast period," Carol Glasheen, an analyst at IDC, said in a statement.

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