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Chinese People and Their Mobile Phones: Over 117 Million Mobile Internet Users in China

China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) recently released two reports on China’s mobile Internet, according to the reports, by the end of 2008, there were already over 640 million mobile phone users in China, and the number of users who access the Internet via mobile phone already exceeded 117.6 million, according to the Research Report on Behavior of Internet Access via Mobile Phone released by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) on February 18 in Beijing…

China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) recently released two reports on China’s mobile Internet, according to the reports, there are already over 640 million mobile users in China by the end of 2008, among them about 117.6 million users have used mobile devices to access Internet in last six months, more than doubled from a year ago. The report said that about 34% of China’s mobile Internet users are active mobile Internet users everyday.

Some key findings of the report are:

  • 74.6% of China’s mobile Internet users are male;
  • China’s mobile Internet users are very young, even compared with China’s Internet users. 70.8% of mobile Internet users are under 19 years old, vs. 35.6% of Internet users;
  • Similar to Internet usage, mobile instant messenger is the most popular mobile Internet applications, with about 31.2% penetration rate;
  • About 6.6 million users are using mobile music services, although the definition of mobile music in the report is not really clear;
  • About 39.6% of users are reading Mobile Newspapers, which is a service by China’s mobile carriers;
  • The report on mobile media also said about 15.7% users are using mobile video service, which is unexpectedly high since there was no 3G network available. I think it is partly because CNNIC only did the survey in four big cities, i.e. Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. But we should note that in the report, mobile video service refers to playing video in your mobile phone, no matter it is streaming directly from mobile Internet or it is transferred to your mobile from computers;
  • Mobile novel service is quite popular in China with 27.7% usage rate.

By the end of 2008, there were already over 640 million mobile phone users in China, and the number of users who access the Internet via mobile phone already exceeded 117.6 million, according to the Research Report on Behavior of Internet Access via Mobile Phone released by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) on February 18 in Beijing. Those born in the eighties became the main group who accessed the Internet via mobile phones, and entertainment applications had become the mainstream.

The report shows that as the penetration rate of mobile phones increases year after year, the mobile Internet has shown a trend of quickly catching up with traditional Internet in terms of user scale. The eighties generation who prefer anything fresh and new have become the main users of mobile Internet, accounting for 70.8 percent of total mobile Internet users.

Currently, male clients still makes up a large proportion of mobile Internet users, accounting for 74.6 percent of the total. However, the percentage of female users is increasing year by year, and it is expected that the male-female ratio will be basically balanced within five years. The access frequency of Internet users via mobile phones in China is growing steadily, and the proportion of users who access the Internet via mobile phone more than once a day has reached 34 percent. This trend will be maintained for a long time leading to a higher frequency of mobile Internet usage.

The survey shows that entertainment applications are the main choice among mobile Internet users. Mobile music has maintained a relatively high application rate, with around 6.6 million active users. Mobile TV and mobile blogs are also winning increasing popularity among mobile netizens, with around 2.5 million active users. Products regarding commerce and learning are rapidly developing as well, especially the mobile WAP mailbox service which has already attracted around 4.8 million active users.

In addition, impacted by the commercial use of 3G, some traditional large-sized Internet enterprises have started to enter the mobile Internet market, exerting a greater influence on the original structure of the industry chain. The advantageous market for mobile Internet companies still lies in technology-oriented fields, including mobile reading and mobile TV.

By Itamar Medeiros

I'm a Strategist, Branding Specialist, Experience Designer, Speaker, and Workshop Facilitator based in Germany, where I work as Director of Design Strategy and Systems at SAP and visiting lecturer at Köln International School of Design of the Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

Working in the Information Technology industry since 1998, I've helped truly global companies in several countries (Brazil, China, Germany, The Netherlands, Poland, The United Arab Emirates, United States, Hong Kong) create great user experience through advocating Design and Innovation principles.

During my 7 years in China, I've promoted the User Experience Design discipline as User Experience Manager at Autodesk and Local Coordinator of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA) in Shanghai.

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