E-commerce provides a global marketplace, and this means we must review access and usage of the Internet channel at many different geographic levels: worldwide and between and within continents and countries.
On a worldwide basis, a relatively small proportion of the population has access to the Internet. The compilation of statistics prepared by ClickZ (www.clickz.com/stats/web worldwide) suggests that despite rapid growth from the mid-1990s to about one billion users by 2005-6 this only represents less than 20% of the global population although there are initiatives such as the $100 PC that are intended to redress this.
If we look at individual countries, the proportion of consumers and businesses accessing the Internet is startling. If we take the United Kingdom, National Statistics (2005) showed that by 2005 over 55% of households had access to the Internet. To look at the scale of variation between different countries and continents complete Activity 2.4. When you complete this activity, you will see that often growth will plateau in most countries since there is a significant majority of the population who do not wish to or cannot afford to access the Internet. For example, Figure 2.15 shows that Internet access is now increasing less rapidly in Europe. As we will see at the start of the next chapter, there is a significant group that have no perceived need for the Internet.
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