Re­port sees mo­bile rev­o­lu­tion ring­ing up more sales this year

China Daily (Canada) - - BUSINESS - By GAO YUAN gaoyuan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Mo­bile In­ter­net users in China hit 500 mil­lion at the end of last year amid a grow­ing pre­pon­der­ance of smart­phones, an in­dus­try re­port said on Thurs­day. The na­tion added roughly 80 mi l l ion mo­bile ne­ti­zens in 2013, and more than 80 per­cent of Chi­nese In­ter­net users are us­ing smart­phones to log onto the World Wide Web, said the China In­ter­net Net­work In­for­ma­tion Center, a gov­ern­ment-backed in­dus­try ad­min­is­tra­tive body.

The to­tal num­ber of Web users in China stood at 618 mil­lion at the end of De­cem­ber, a 9.5 per­cent in­crease over the year be­fore, CNNIC said.

The grow­ing num­ber of smart­phone own­ers also has driven a rapid rise in video, mu­sic and in­stant mes­sag­ing ap­pli­ca­tions over the past year, said Liu Bing, deputy di­rec­tor at CNNIC.

Nearly 250 mil­lion ne­ti­zens in the coun­try are ei­ther watch­ing video con­tent or down­load­ing it us­ing their smart­phones, a surge of 83.8 per­cent year-on-year.

With the fourth-gen­er­a­tion tele­com net­work in place, apps that used high data vol­ume such as online video and gam­ing will f lour­ish in the next few years, ac­cord­ing to Liu.

An­a­lysts said that as more young­sters and ru­ral res­i­dents con­nect to the Web us­ing smart­phones, the de­vices will drive China’s In­ter­net ex­pan­sion.

Re­search firm Canalys es­ti­mated that by 2017, close to 95 per­cent of mo­bile phones sold in China will be smart de­vices.

China be­came the world’s big­gest smart­phone mar­ket in terms of ship­ment in 2011.

Fa lling prices of smart­phones also will spur an in­crease in their pen­e­tra­tion rate, said Chris Jones, prin­ci­pal an­a­lyst at Canalys.

“The siz­zling pop­u­lar­ity of smart­phones is chang­ing the way peo­ple con­sume data on the In­ter­net,” Liu said.

He pointed to the fact that once-pop­u­lar In­ter­net ser­vices de­signed for per­sonal com­put­ers have ex­pe­ri­enced a de­cline due to the wider use of mo­bile apps.

Nearly 28 mil­lion ne­ti­zens stopped us­ing mi­cro blogs in China over the past year, the fi rst drop in user num­bers ever recorded, said CNNIC.

Mi­cro blogs, or Weibo, faced pow­er­ful chal­lenges from such smart­phonebased in­stant mes­sag­ing ap­pli­ca­tions as WeChat.

“Peo­ple who were ac­tive on both plat­forms started aban­don­ing their Weibo ac­counts in 2013,” Liu said.

China had about 280 mil­lion Weibo users last year, while WeChat claimed to have 600 mil­lion users glob­ally.

e top Weibo apps in the na­tion lost nearly 6 mil­lion users in the past year, said the re­port.

Other so­cial net­work­ing web­sites from the PC era also faced a “sub­stan­tial” loss in user num­bers last year, it added. The lack of a well- func­tion­ing busi­ness model was the ma­jor rea­son for th­ese short-lived ser­vices.

“New ser­vices are com­ing out so fast that most ser­vices can­not sur­vive a four-year life­cy­cle, al­though they could ac­cu­mu­late large user num­bers in a very short time,” said Liu.

Young smart­phone users also find it eas­ier to adopt new Web fea­tures. More than 55 per­cent of Chi­nese ne­ti­zens were un­der 30 years old, CNNIC re­ported.

In a re­lated de­vel­op­ment, online shop­ping will con­tinue to heat up in 2014, as smart­phone- pow­ered pay­ments and more lo­ca­tion-based ser­vices go into com­mer­cial use, the re­port pre­dicted.

In 2013, China over­took the United States to be­come the world’s largest e-com­merce mar­ket in terms of trans­ac­tion vol­ume, said Cai Yudong, deputy chief of the e-com­merce and in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy bureau un­der the Com­merce Min­istry.

“De ep c o op e r a t i o n be­tween online and offl ine re­tail­ers in­di­cates e- com­merce is be­com­ing an ir­re­place­able mar­ket­place for Chi­nese cus­tomers,” he said.

Pur­chases made on mo­bile de­vices will give busi­nesses the most mo­men­tum in 2014, said CNNIC.

More brick-and-mor­tar stores will en­cour­age the use of new tech­nolo­gies such as shop­ping guide apps and two-di­men­sional codes for users to scan, said Liu.

“One in five online shop­pers said they like mo­bile pur­chases bet­ter than plac­ing or­ders on a PC. More peo­ple will be in fa­vor of mo­bile shop­ping in the fu­ture be­cause re­tail­ers want more traf­fic gen­er­ated from smart­phones,” he said.

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