Mobile Web users surge to 388m

Updated: 2012-07-20 08:58

By Chen Limin (China Daily)

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Mobile Web users surge to 388m

A student chats online with her mother in Jieshou, Anhui province. The number of Chinese Internet users increased 11 percent from a year earlier to 538 million at the end of June, or almost 40 percent of the nation's total population. [Photo/China Daily] 

CNNIC report: 40 percent of the population now has access to Internet

The number of Chinese people accessing the Internet via mobile devices has increased to a record high of 388 million at the end of June, a report said on Thursday.

The increase comes amid a slowdown since 2010 in the growth rate of the total number of Chinese Web users, which was at 538 million in the first half.

Mobile phones have become the most widely used devices to access the Internet, boosted by the growing popularity of smartphones and a large number of mobile applications, according to the report by the China Internet Network Information Center.

This echoes the industry players' view that mobile Internet is very likely to be the "next big thing".

Driven by wireless Internet access, the number of China's total Web users rose 11 percent from a year earlier to 538 million, representing almost 40 percent of the nation's total population.

In March, China set the goal of having the Internet penetration rate reach 45 percent during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15).

However, the rapid increase of Internet users has come to an end, and it "has entered a phase of steady development", according to the report of CNNIC, a quasi-governmental organization that monitors China's Web industry.

"Further penetration in the future will rely on people with lower levels of education and those living in less-developed areas," the report said, adding that improved IT infrastructure and better computer skills are also needed.

The increase of mobile Internet users has prompted an increasingly large number of companies to improve their footprints in the sector.

Companies, such as Alibaba Group, Tencent Holdings Ltd, and Qihoo 360 Technology Co, are trying to attract users from the very first moment they touch a mobile phone by providing operating systems, pre-installed applications, or releasing self-brand mobile phones.

"The release of smartphones and lower prices for the devices will encourage more people to use mobile phones to surf the Internet," said Xiang Hailong, vice-president of Baidu Inc, China's largest search engine.

The company, which has launched an operating system for mobile phones, introduced a mobile application on Thursday that enables companies to manage their advertising activities on Baidu's website via mobile phones.

The rising popularity of the mobile Internet is also seen in various Internet services, such as micro blogs, which are limited Internet message services for notes of 140 characters or less.

The total number of micro-blogging users increased by 9.5 percent from half a year ago to 274 million at the end of June, compared with an explosive increase of more than 200 percent the same time last year.

Despite this, however, the service has registered the biggest increase of usage in the mobile sector as mobile phones provide a good user experience and additional functions have been added to micro blog mobile applications, such as friend-making and e-commerce features, the report said.

Charles Chao, chief executive officer of Sina Corp, said earlier that the company will invest $160 million on its micro blog service this year, up from about $120 million last year.

Mobile Web users surge to 388m