Europe and the Asia Pacific are poised to overtake North America in the Internet access league, researchers have revealed.
The US, where almost half the households have Internet connections, and Canada together account for 41 percent of the world's 429 million surfers. In Asia, one third of homes are connected, and just over one quarter of European households boast Internet access.
But in the next year a further 9 percent of European homes, and 12 percent of Asia Pacific homes, plan to get connected, according to research firm Nielsen NetRatings.
"Don't expect this American domination to last long," Nielsen NetRatings researchers said. "Compared to a year ago, significantly more households in Europe and Asia Pacific now have a PC in the home and a greater proportion of homes are making use of that PC to connect to the Internet."
In Europe, the Netherlands and Italy lead the home Internet access table, researchers said.
One-in-every six Europeans used the Internet in the first three months of the year to search for product pricing information, compared with a quarter of New Zealand and Australian adults. But a reluctance amongst surfers in Europe and the Asia Pacific to use the Internet at work could limit the spread of the net as a business tool, the report said.
"Even for those who do have Internet access at work, home is more likely to be the location of use of the Internet," according to the research findings. "Use of the Internet at work - or elsewhere - is not the cultural norm yet in (Europe and Asia), which could impact the growth of business-to-business commerce ventures in these regions."