China grabbing Internet on the go

By Chen Limin and Tuo Yannan (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-07-16 09:37
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Two-thirds of Web surfers are catching the mobile wave

BEIJING: More and more Chinese are hooking into the Web on the move, with nearly two-thirds of Internet users going mobile.

With the increasing popularity of devices such as the iPhone and the expansion of the third-generation network, more than 277 million people were accessing the Internet via their phones in the country by the end of June, representing more than 65 percent of China's 420 million Internet users.

That is an 18 percent increase in the number of people who surf the Internet on mobile phones from half a year ago, according to the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC).

"Mobile phones will catch up with personal computers to be another main access to the Internet in the coming years," said Liu Bing, director of Internet Research Department of the CNNIC.

According to the CNNIC, about 11 percent of users access the Internet only though mobile phones, up from 8 percent in December.

Companies are stepping up efforts to cash in on the popularity of the mobile Internet.

A WiFi-ready iPhone was approved on July 5, according to the Chinese Telecommunication Equipment Certification Center. Before that, iPhone had to enter the Chinese market without WiFi, like other brand-name mobile phones from overseas.

Blackberry has also teamed up with China Mobile to provide smartphones targeting individual users.

Liu added that the growth of the mobile Internet will be further fueled by more applications designed for mobile users.

CNNIC said the most frequently used applications for mobile Internet are instant messaging, searches and music, whose penetration rates reached 61 percent, 48 percent and 45 percent respectively.

Internet literature has become the fastest growing application of the mobile Internet, with 188 million users at the end of June, up 15 percent from December. This is mainly due to the increase of online works, the growing number of e-readers and commercialized operation of the industry.

The third-generation network, which was rolled out in China last year, will further contribute to the growth of the country's Internet users, said the report.

Yet China's Internet penetration rate, which was 31 percent by the end of June, still lags behind many other countries. Three-quarters of the people in the United States and Japan are hooked up.

China grabbing Internet on the go