China’s Online Population Rises to 591 Million

According to new figures from the China Internet Network Information Center, there are now 591 million Internet users in China. AP reports:

China’s population of users has grown to 591 million, driven by a 20 percent rise over the past year in the number of people who surf the Web from smartphones and other wireless devices, an industry group reported Wednesday.

The end-of-June figures from the China Internet Network Information Center represent a 10 percent rise in total Internet use over a year earlier. The number of wireless users rose to 464 million.

[…]The latest growth raised the percentage of China’s population that uses the Internet to 44 percent, according to CNNIC. [Source]

Xinhua looks to the CNNIC figures to note that a rapidly growing proportion of web users are using mobile devices to get online:

Out of all the , 78.5 percent, or 464 million, use to access the Internet, up 4 percentage points compared with the end of 2012, according to a report issued by China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC).

Some 69.5 percent of the country’s netizens access the Internet through their desktops, and the ratio was down 1.1 percentage points compared with the beginning of the year, the center said.

The CNNIC report said the country’s mobile phone netizens have developed a heavy reliance on their devices as they each spent an average of 11.8 hours per week to go online. [Source]

A post from Tech In Asia provides charts from CNNIC, and predicts that web-activity may become even more mobile dominated in the future:

The mobile web number of 460 million has doubled since December 2009. Of course, a lot more people in China than that have phones, with over 1.1 billion phone subscriptions at the last count. It’s worth remembering that, as we’ve reported before, China has over 300 million 3G users, which will help push forward smartphone usage and shift even more web browsing and other activities to phones. [Source]

As China’s population of mobile and stationary Internet users continues to swell, so are the values of Chinese tech firms and foreign interest in China’s online markets. BBC reports:

The rapid growth is reflected in the valuations of some local tech firms.

Earlier this week the country’s most popular search engine Baidu announced it would pay $1.9bn (£1.3bn) to buy 91 Wireless Websoft, a firm that runs two app stores in the country.

A forthcoming flotation of Alibaba, the Hangzhou-based giant, is also expected to value the firm at $62.5bn, according to research by Bloomberg.

Western brands have also been keen to target the market, as was highlighted by football team Manchester United’s decision to launch a Sina Weibo account earlier this month. [Source]