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Internet access through mobile phones surpasses PCs in China

More Chinese Internet users are accessing the Web from mobile phones than from conventional PCs, the government has said in a report released on 19 July.

And the country’s total number of web users has reached 538 million, nearly 40 per cent of China’s 1.3 billion citizens, the state-affiliated China Internet Network Information Center has said. Unsurprisingly, that figure represents the world’s largest online population.

The mobile Internet milestone was tipped this year, as the smartphone market exploded in China and around the globe. The proliferation of Internet-capable mobile devices have brought the Internet to the country’s outer regions, where Chinese living in rural environments previously were unable to access fixed-line networks.

More than half of China’s new Internet users - that is, users who began going online this year - are from rural areas.

"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," the report said. "Smartphones are more and more powerful and there is a new wave of mobile application innovation.”

"Meanwhile, mobile phone prices continued to drop -- the emergence of smartphones under 1,000 yuan [£100] sharply lowered the threshold for using the devices and encouraged average mobile phone users to become mobile web surfers,” according to the report.

Accordingly, the number of users accessing the Internet through their phones jumped more than nine per cent to 388 million people, while the total number of China’s internet population increased by five percent.

The significant, and sustained, growth of China’s mobile and mobile Internet market highlights the country as a crucial market for smartphone manufacturers targeting global sales.