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Web economy in G20 set to double by 2016, Google says

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Consumers to double online spend

Irish consumers are set to double the amount they spend online within the next five years, but only some of it will find its way to Irish retailers

More and more people are accessing the internet via mobile devices, 89% of people use their mobile devices to access the web every day in Spain, 93% in the UK, 90% in France and 85% in German

Driving the spurt from 2.3tn (1.5tn) to 4.2tn (2.7tn) will be the rapid rise of mobile internet access. The study, supported by web giant Google, assumes that in four years 3bn people will be using the internet, or nearly 50% of the world's population. The research suggests that the UK is one of the most advanced e-commerce economies. Right now, every year about 200 million people are going online for the very first time. However, traditional internet access via a copper wire and a desktop PC will fade into the background. The rapid fall in the cost of smartphones - with cheap versions now costing about 100 - means that by 2016 about 80% of all internet users will access the web using a mobile phone. The research does not even account for web access using so-called feature phones.

These numbers look impressive, but they are still just a fraction of the global economy. We dont fill empty holes on websites any more, we engage customers Michael Lazerow Chief executive of Buddymedia The search for e-commerce 3.0 In 2010, the internet economy in the G20 group of leading nations was worth 2.3tn - larger than the economies of Italy or Brazil, but a mere 4.1% of the total size of all G20 economies. The Boston Consulting Group researchers speak of the emergence of a "new internet" where: web access will not be a luxury any more the majority of web users will live in emerging markets (within four years, China is expected to be home to 800 million people using the internet; that is more than the United States, India, France, Germany and the UK taken together) about 80% of all internet users will access the web from a mobile the internet will go social, and allow customers and companies to engage with each other

The Trend

This trend will be coupled with another huge technology shift that will fundamentally change the nature of how to run a business - the rise of the so-called "internet of things", where all kinds of devices from sensors to cars to radiators will be connected to the web. Technology giant IBM estimates that by 2015, one trillion devices will be internet-connected. Online is also reaching into the offline world. The BCG researchers say that every household already researches about $3,000 worth of goods online before buying them in traditional stores. Digital, the researchers say, cannot be an add-on. Businesses have to adapt their people, processes and structures for the digital economy. Paul Zwillenberg of BCG says that entrepreneurs building a digital business are outperforming rivals who do not embrace the web economy. However, what the research fails to capture is the balance of employment between new, more efficient digital companies and old-style businesses

The Winners

Google, who supported the research, is obviously one of the companies set to gain most from the rapid growth of the internet. "Understanding the economic potential of the web should be an urgent priority for leaders... [with] a powerful case for countries and companies to get online and reap the rewards of an age of data," Patrick Pichette, Google's chief financial officer, says. However, the report suggests that Google will not be the only winner. The researchers identify several "internet ecosystems" that will try to tie users in to their customised part of the internet, among them Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Baidu and Tencent in China and Yandex in Russia.

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