Today CNNIC (China Network Information Center) published its half yearly Internet statistics (pdf, in Chinese). As expected the total number of Internet users kept on growing and there are now 420 million Chinese online. Almost everybody has access to broadband, the penetration rate is over 98%.
But what’s actually even more interesting is the number of people that go online on a mobile device. At the end of June 2010 there were almost 277 million mobile Internet users in China. That is more than the total number of people that are online in the US. Amazing how this number is growing (44 million new users over the past 6 months), and I think it’s just the beginning. Phones with wifi only now start to appear on the Chinese market (for a long time phones were not allowed to have wifi here) and also 3G is taking off after it was launched in 2009.
CNNIC also published what people are actually doing on a mobile device. So far it’s still mainly low bandwidth usage, such as instant messaging and search. But Internet applications that need a higher connection speed are growing fast. According to the report 20% of all mobile Internet users now already watches online video on a mobile (Tudou has an exclusive deal with China Mobile where people can watch and upload unlimited videos for just RMB 6 per month) and 21% now play mobile online games.
I expect these figures to grow very quickly over the next year. Especially the announcement of MTK to start producing cheap Android chips for China’s ubiquitous shanzai phones means that very soon inexpensive Android smart phones will appear on the Chinese market. This likely means that Android will become the standard mobile operating system in China, and it will also help to further boost the mobile internet. Exciting opportunities ahead for entrepreneurs!