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Germany

The Cost of Clicking Online

Up until now, the internet has been a relatively affordable source of information and entertainment. But if several internet providers have their way, that all might change.

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The internet is about to get more expensive

Once you buy a computer, equip yourself with current software, and get yourself signed up with a web provider, there aren’t too many more expenses involved in surfing the internet – unless you think time is money.

Things are about to change, however. More and more internet providers are placing a price tag on their content. So what was otherwise free (not including the straight costs of hooking up), is now only being offered for a price.

But Europeans are not too eager to shell out their new euros just to click on internet content.

According to a survey conducted by the marketing institute Jupiter Media Metrix, 47 percent of European surfers said they were not willing to pay for internet content. Another 18 percent said that while they were generally not in favor of costly clicks, they would pay for music downloaded from cyberspace.

While it may be statistically true that a large percent of Europeans don’t like to pay for online content, others are happily surfing and spending.

Last year Europeans paid 252 million euro for products and content offered in the internet.

At least 70 percent of that sum flowed back into the hands of erotic website providers, who tend to charge quite a bit for pay for view. Games and news sites also made money with pay for content offers.

The holiday spirit

Over the Christmas season, Europeans were especially quick to buy products online. Jupiter Media counted nearly 33 million European users on shopping sites. That’s up 50 percent from the year 2000.

Altogether the Europeans spent 2.9 million euro over the holidays. The British were the biggest spenders with 835,000 euro in the weeks preceding Christmas, followed by the Germans with 738,000 euro, and the French with 274,000 euro.

Computer products topped the list of items purchased online. But the single most successful website was Amazon.com.

An expensive future

Jupiter Media is convinced that within the next few years the internet will change from an all-free, all ad-supported forum for content and services to a true cyber-market driven by consumer demands and expenditures.

And the reason for this is obvious: the online media with its fast growth dot-coms has lost money. After the past year’s economic recession, all but the most successful web properties were forced to close or downsize drastically.

The question for surfers and providers alike is not when this transformation will take place, but how pay-to-view content will change the nature of the internet.

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