The European head of Google, the giant internet company, has warned that Europe still lags behind the US in exploiting the commercial power of the internet.

Nikesh Arora, the vice president of Google's operations in Europe, said British and European businesses needed to focus more on building their online operations to meet consumer demand.

Speaking on the eve of Google's "Zeitgeist Europe" conference in Hertfordshire, which will be attended by 250 top European executives, he said: "The internet will change the shape of commerce, advertising, newspapers, entertainment. . . of most industries it touches.

"Europe has not embraced the internet as a commerce platform as much as the US."

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