About 35 percent of urban Chinese use smartphones, the third-highest level in the world, a survey has found.
China’s smartphone adoption rate follows Singapore’s 62 percent and Australia’s 37 percent, according to the survey by Google and research company Ipsos, which was based on 30,000 interviewees from 30 countries and regions.
“If you consider that the device didn’t exist more than five years ago, the fact that already one-third of the population in the cities has it is actually quite remarkable,” said Ryan Hayward, Asia-Pacific mobile product marketing manager of Google.
“When we look back at how long it took for people to adopt radio and TV, I doubt that one in three had them within four years. That just didn’t happen.”
The survey covered 2,000 people in seven large cities: Shenyang, Beijing, Shanghai, Xi’an, Chengdu, Wuhan and Guangzhou.
“People living in first- and second-tier cities change their mobile phones relatively often,” said Wang Ying, an analyst with domestic research company Analysys International.
“Economic development in the cities has spurred residents’ demand for smartphones, which in turn, led to mobile carriers’ initiatives to promote smartphones,” she added.
Urban Chinese consumers are also most likely to own multiple mobile phones, whether smartphones or regular feature phones. One out of three people in urban China have at least two smartphones, a proportion that is the highest in the Asia-Pacific region, according to the report.
The wide adoption of smartphones has been partly boosted by China’s construction of a third-generation (3G) networks, which which have improved the user experience for smartphone owners with higher speed.
China had more than 100 million 3G users at the end of September/2011, representing more than 10 percent of total mobile phone subscribers, according to the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
The smartphone adoption level is probably less than 20 percent nationwide, however, taking less-developed cities and rural areas into account, said Wang. The market needs to be further tapped as these areas gradually adopt 3G networks and people there change mobile phones.
In areas that require advanced technology, such as cloud computing, the US will continue to be a leader for a long time. But in other areas, such as social applications, games and mobile Internet services, there will be promising companies emerging in China in the coming years, Kai-Fu Lee, former head of Google China, said last month at an industry forum in Beijing