Internet to overtake traditional TV consumption in Europe next year, predicts Microsoft

The Internet will overtake traditional TV as the main source of content in European homes by the middle of next year, predicts new research by Microsoft.

The report, entitled 'Europe logs on: Internet trends of today and tomorrow', projects that Europeans will be averaging 14.2 hours per week on the Internet by June 2010, compared to an average of 11.5 hours spent watching the TV, based on current growth trends. The study adds that since 2004, broadband connections across Europe have grown by nearly 95%, from 44mn in 2005 to 85mn today.

Europeans are estimated to have spent an average of 8.9 hours per week (or 1.5 days per month) using the Internet in 2008, up 27% from 2004 - which is reckoned to be more time than they spent reading print media, watching films or playing video games. Interestingly, the study adds that Internet use on PCs will drop from 95% today to 50% by 2013, as other Web-enabled devices such as IPTV set-top boxes, games consoles and mobile phones become more popular.

Meanwhile, online video is described as having established itself as the most popular online entertainment application, with 28% of Europeans currently watching short or full-length videos - an increase of 150% since 2006. Content (such as news and online video) and communication (email and social networks) represent an estimated 65% of all time spent on the Internet at present, according to the findings, while commerce (including online shopping) represents 33% of time spent on the Web.

Microsoft is predicting five major trends for the future: three-screens convergence; the rise of connected entertainment, bridging the gap between online and offline; the whole Web becoming 'social', with social connectivity becoming commercial and advertising becoming increasingly personalised; the 3D Internet becoming a reality, with consumers able to virtually experience products before buying, for example; and smartphones becoming mainstream, affordable choices.