Millions more Chinese using mobile devices to access internet
HONG KONG, July 28 – While China’s internet community continues to grow in huge numbers so, too, does the amount of people who are accessing the web via mobile devices.
A report released earlier this month from the China Internet Network Information Centre claims there are now 538 million Chinese who regularly use the internet, up 11 per cent year on year, and that a staggering 388 million of them do so through smartphones and other such devices.
The overall internet penetration rate across China now stands at just over 40 per cent, according to the report, which is on track to meet the target of 45 per cent set by the country’s 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15).
China last year became the world’s biggest market for smartphones with sales reaching an estimated 84 million units on the back of heavy promotions, subsidies on high-end brands and a drive by Chinese companies to offer low-cost models of their own.
Local companies offering cheaper options
While international players Nokia, Samsung Electronics and Apple dominate the market – between them sharing around 60 per cent of sales – local brands such as Alibaba, Tencent and Qihoo 360 are now offering devices at a fraction of the cost.
Alibaba’s smartphone, for example, retails for around 2,680 yuan (347 euros) which is about half the price asked for an iPhone.
“The release of smartphones and lower prices for the devices will encourage more people to use mobile phones to surf the internet,” Xiang Hailing, vice-president of China’s largest search engine, Baidu, told the China Daily newspaper.
One of the internet services that has proved most attractive for those accessing via mobile devices has been microblogging, the instant messaging service that restricts users to 140 characters or less.
According to the CINIC report, there are now 274 million microbloggers across China and they are accessed regularly by 43.8 per cent of those who use smartphones to scan the internet.
Such has been the success of the services that even American politicians have tapped into the trend as they look to expand their profiles and their audiences. It was reported earlier this year that the governor of Nebraska, Dave Heineman, was among the first to make the move and that he now has more than 300 million followers in China.
How China uses its smartphones:
Instant messaging: 83 per cent
Internet search: 66.7 per cent
News: 58.3 per cent
Music: 49.2 per cent
Microblogs: 43.8 per cent
Online books: 41.9 per cent
Social networks; 41.2 per cent
Games: 30 per cent
Videos 27.7 per cent. – AFP/Relaxnews