There will be no such thing as an 'internet company' in the future, according to Google's vice president of European operations, who believes that all companies will have a strong internet presence and there will be no need to make the distinction.
Nikesh Arora said at a lecture set up by The Business at the Institute of Mechanical Engineers in London that 20 to 40 per cent of all business would be carried out on the internet within the next 10 years.
However, he added that many European businesses still do not understand the opportunities available to them online and risk being left behind.
In one example, Arora cited a washing machine manufacturer which had resisted setting up an internet sales channel because it was afraid of upsetting its usual sales partners.
In this case an employee had quit the washing machine firm and started up his own website, effectively cornering the market in online sales for that company's products.
"Many companies make the mistake of thinking that their website should be a corporate brochure instead of a place to sell their products," said Arora.
But he added that, although the market had grown considerably, there is still a long way to go.
Arora quoted figures suggesting that there are now one billion people online compared with 16 million in 1996, although this number still accounts for only 15 per cent of the world's population.
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