Chinese consumers take to mobile web

01 June 2009

BEIJING: Over 100 million Chinese consumers accessed the internet via their mobile phones last year, using these devices for activities ranging from sending text messages to uploading content to Web 2.0 portals, Netpop has found.

A total of 102 million Chinese mobile owners utilised the web on wireless devices in 2008, equivalent to 75% of the potential audience of 182 million people that have online-enabled handsets.

By contrast, the number of Americans over the age of 13 who used the mobile web reached 18 million, up 36% on an annual basis, and amounting to 41% of all US consumers owning suitable cellphones.

Netpop also found that 28% of the 4,269 respondents taking part in qualitative research in China owned two or more mobile phones, 10% higher than among its 4,383 participants in the US.

Email was the most popular mobile internet activity among Americans, with 50% using this facility each month, a figure falling to 44% for sending text messages, and 32% for checking the weather.

Other tools employed by this group included online search, used by 31% of participants a month, followed by accessing news, on 25%, and social networking, registering a total of 21%.

By contrast, viewing news content was most popular in China, with a score of 47%, with SMS taking 41%, and instant messaging a usage rate of 33%.

Search facilities were also utilised by 32% of consumers, with 30% looking at weather updates, 29% playing games, and 22% sending email.

Some 58% of Chinese consumers also upload content to Web 2.0 services via their mobile, compared with 41% of their American counterparts.

BuzzCity further estimates that mobile internet use rose by 23% in Indonesia in the first quarter of this year, and increased by 16% in India.

This compared with an upturn of 8% in Egypt, 67% in China, and 54% in the UK. The US also saw an upturn of 38%, while South Africa was down by 8%.

Data sourced from Marketing Charts; additional content by WARC staff