The following is a guest post by Tait Lawton, an English-Chinese translator and founder of Nanjing Marketing Group. Sometimes it is easy to forget the worldwide scope of the web, so we asked Tait to give an overview of the internet in China, and give some insights to this massive, growing segment of web users.
Who’s Using the Internet in China?
There are 338 million internet users in China based on the latest report*. Even though that’s greater than the number of citizens of USA, it is still only a 25% penetration rate. Internet usage continues to spread rapidly in China. Every 6 months, China is now adding 40 million users. For comparison, that’s greater than the total population of Canada.
Compared to their North American counterparts, the average Chinese internet user is younger and earns less money. A third of them are between the age of 10-19 and almost another third are between the age of 20-29. Only about 15% are 40 or over. About 72% report an income of under 2000 Yuan per month, which is a little under $300 USD. However, it’s important to note that with at least a third of Chinese internet users being students, these income numbers are deceptively small. Although students have a lower income, with the one-child policy these “little emperors” receive a disproportionate amount of the family income.
Where do they Use the Internet?
Besides at home and at the office, with respective usage rates of 80% and 26%, Chinese internet users make greater use of mobile devices and internet cafes.
Mobile phones are ubiquitous in China. Service is cheap and the variety of phones available is incredible. Almost half of Chinese internet users access the internet via mobile phone. This is mostly for messaging, but search and music downloading are common as well.
One-third of Chinese internet users access the internet from an internet café or “wangba” as they are called in Chinese. The typical wangba has anywhere from 30 to 200 computers. Young, mostly male, customers fill the room with smoke as they play hours and hours of video games like World of Warcraft, chat with friends on QQ and other messengers, listen to domestic and foreign music, and watch videos on China’s versions of YouTube. At just a few Renminbi (perhaps $0.50) per hour, the service is cheap.
What are They Doing Online?
Compared to North Americans, Chinese internet users are more focused on entertainment, communication and information. Usage rates for online games and online videos are over 60%, while the usage rate for music downloads has reached 85%. Usage rates for news, messaging, blogging and SNS are also quite high. Popular websites include Baidu (like Google), Renren and Kaixin (like Facebook) and Tudou (like YouTube).
* Statistics are based on the official “Statistical Survey Report on Internet Development in China” published by the Chinese government on June 30, 2009.