Globalization still slow to take hold in many Net businesses

Despite a huge boom expected in online users abroad, U.S. companies still aren’t targeting those markets, according to a report released yesterday by Jupiter Research Inc.

Jupiter analysts predict that the online market in Asia will be bigger than that in the United States in five years or less and that Latin America will double its number of Internet users.

Preston Dodd, an analyst at Jupiter Media Metrix company based in New York, said: “the gap in global Web development will ignite a fierce battle for leadership in the international Internet development and service space. While it is imperative for sites to gain a foothold in these markets, they need to avoid a must-build mentality and enter these markets through strategic partnerships such as joint ventures and franchises.”

Previous studies had similar projections for the makeup of the online populations. The Jupiter report, however, also says, “of the top 20 Web sites within five categories (shopping, travel, search engine and portals, news, marketing and corporate) two-thirds of U.S. companies have not yet prepared for a global online marketplace.”

While some companies have paid attention to “smaller, secondary” markets in France and Italy, much bigger markets in the United Kingdom and Germany, for example, have been ignored.

The report suggests that companies trying to globalize should align with local companies to gain an understanding of local customs, delivery capabilities and business practices. U.S. and European professional services firms and translation companies can also help in the transition, the report said.