China hits 460m mobile milestone

Almost 70% of China's population are now connected to the internet by mobil phone.

Kids mobiles


Mobiles: child's play Image: WholsMrBilly

Now is the time to optimise company websites for mobiles devices. As of the end of July 2013, the number of mobile internet users in China had soared to 460 million – more than the population of Brazil and Indonesia combined.

The number of 3G users also increased by 101m in 2013 thus far to 334m, or 28.2% of total mobile users, according to research from the state-backed China Internet Network Information Network (CNNIC).

Mobile e-commerce reached 53.2bn yuan ($8.6bn) in the first half of 2013, a year-on-year increase of 44%, and is expected to reach 130bn yuan ($21bn) by the end of the year.

With only 42% of the population accessing the internet on a fixed line, China is still way behind developed nations, such as the US and Germany, where fixed line penetration is above typically 80%.

The dramatic rise in mobile internet usage has been propelled by the popularity of cheap smartphones, many of which are on sale for just 500 yuan ($82). Even industry titan Apple Inc, whose iconic iPhone was previously a must-have in China, is reconsidering its approach to the Chinese market with its discounted iPhone 5C, available for 4,833 yuan ($733).

Alibaba Group, an equivalent to eBay or Amazon, is already seeing over 10% of transactions coming from smartphones and has invested around $1bn in the past few months to strengthen its mobile ad businesses.

Smartphones will continue to become cheaper, meaning more and more people will shop, read news and communicate with friends on social media on their phones. Companies who are unprepared for mobile use, or do not have responsive sites, may miss out on a burgeoning market.