European e-commerce ventures will more than match the onslaught from US offerings, according to figures released by IDC last week.
IDC research discussed at its European IT Forum estimated that by 2004 Europe will have 34% of global e-commerce revenue - a similar proportion to its share of total world trade.
European commissioner Erkki Liikanen said diversity in Europe could give it a business advantage and that competition between European nations could encourage innovation. However, he warned that economic protectionism, labour laws and government bureaucracy were acting as a drag on new economy developments.
Speaking at the forum, Michael Dell, chief executive officer of Dell Computers, added a note of caution, and said the perceived European lead in mobile computing might be illusory. Profits on next-generation mobile computing will not come from supplying the 3G infrastructure, but from applications and services. This is an area where US companies have a better record than EU rivals, Dell said.
Few businesses in Europe are using the Internet for business transactions, said Michael Laphen, European president at Computer Sciences Corporation. "Behind the clicks there is very little integration in e-business today," he said.
Stephen Mucchetti, chief operating officer of e-business developer Scient, said the key feature of the new economy was that "risk is back". The pathway to profitability was critical, he added.
Gary Hamel, a professor at Harvard Business School, said the advent of the Internet meant it was irrelevant to talk of Europe versus the US. The new economy would be based on innovation, not country of origin, he said.