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Mobile Web overtakes PC Web in China

on Monday November 19, 2012 @ 4:36

Mobile phones are now the most common way for people to connect to the Internet in China and over 50% of new Internet users, were from rural areas.

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These stats are from a report issued by the China Internet Network Information Centre (CINIC).

For the first time, desktop computers are no longer the leading method for the country's 538 million connected citizens to get online, and a fall in smartphone costs has been the key cause of growth, experts said.

"Mobile phones are a cheaper and more convenient way to access the Internet for residents in China's vast rural areas and for the enormous migrant population," said the report from the state-linked CINIC.

Mobile Internet users now number 388 million, up almost 10% since the start of the year. "Mobile phone prices continued to drop," the report said.

"The emergence of smartphones under 1,000 yuan [$157, £100] sharply lowered the threshold for using the devices and encouraged average mobile phone users to become mobile web surfers."

Mobile only in China - On Device Research

In March this year we conducted our own research in China, asking whether the PC will cease to exist, as the world’s developing markets turn mobile-only.

We reported that 38% of Chinese mobile web users only access the Internet through their mobile, an increase of 8 percentage points over the past year.

Again, like the CINIC report, we found the mobile only trend to be especially prevalent in rural areas where 45% were mobile only, compared to 29% in the city.

Other research highlights include a quarter of mobile web users in China are using their mobiles for day-to-day banking, especially amongst smartphone users.

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Great Firewall

Over half of the connected population in China frequently use microblogging sites like Sina Weibo, a service similar to Twitter which is banned in the country.

The popularity of these services has prompted the government to force users to sign up using their real names.

Internet use in China has had a rocky history. The country has been on the end of sharp criticism from human rights groups for blocking large amounts of content from its citizens - a system which has been dubbed the "Great Firewall of China".

The report's implications are likely to have been noticed by the country's Communist leaders.

Mobile phones are an ideal platform for the microblogs which have become unofficial forums for information about unrest, scandals or disasters.

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