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A customer selects a smartphone at a shopping mall in Xuchang, Henan province, July 15. [Photo/Asianewsphoto]
BEIJING -- China is going mobile as mobile phones have overtaken desktop computers as the primary source of Internet access in the country, a report showed Thursday.
Some 388 million Chinese were connected to the Internet through mobile phones as of the end of June, compared with 380 million people who connected through their desktops, according to a report released by the China Internet Networks Information Center.
"While mobile Internet grew fast, the utilization of desktops for Internet access has kept sliding," the report said. "A whole new pattern of Internet access is emerging in China."
Liu Bing, CNNIC deputy director, attributed the shift to cheaper smartphones that have become affordable to migrant workers and rural residents.
China surpassed the United States to become the world's largest smartphone market by volume in the third quarter of 2011, when smartphone shipments reached a record 24 million units in the country, according to data from US market research company Strategy Analytics.
While global giants like Apple and Samsung Electronics dominate the high-end market, domestic smartphone makers such as Huawei and Xiaomi Technology have eyed middle or low-end markets with lower-priced products.
The rapid expansion of the mobile Internet population has boosted mobile online payment, which in turn is expected to stimulate the development of mobile e-commerce.
About 44.4 million people used mobile phones to make online payments at the end of June, up 14 million from the end of last year, the CNNIC report said.
The government will promote the development of mobile Internet applications, commercialization of cloud-computing services and establishment of third-party e-commerce platforms, said Gao Sumei, an official with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
China's e-commerce transaction value in 2015 is expected to reach 18 trillion yuan ($2.85 trillion), Gao forecasted.
China's online population exceeded that of the United States to top the world in 2008, with 24 out of every 100 Internet users being Chinese, Liu said.
The country's online population rose 10.9 percent year-on-year to hit 538 million by the end of June, meaning that four out of 10 Chinese are now Internet users, according to the CNNIC report.
In the first half of this year, the country's Internet users increased by 25 million.
There were 210 million online shoppers by June end, while 17.7 percent of China's Internet users were aged above 40 and 27.1 percent were rural dwellers, the CNNIC data showed.