China’s online population has hit 538 million, a new report from the non-profit research group China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) points out.
Mobile phones have overtaken computers as the most popular device that people use to go online in China. The number of people using mobile phones to go online rose to 388 million this year, up 9.2 percent from the end of 2011, while 380 million people used computers to connect to the Internet.
“Mobile phones are a cheaper and more convenient way to access the Internet for (residents in) China’s vast rural areas and for the enormous migrant population,” the report states, adding that nearly 52 percent of users who started to use the Internet this year are from the countryside.
The Internet penetration rate in China is 39.9 percent, which is low when compared to 77.3 percent in the U.S. To increase the Internet penetration further, the country will have to target people living in less developed areas, and those with lower education levels.The CNNIC survey found that 54.8 percent of the respondents who were not online had no knowledge of using computers and Internet.
Further, instant messaging, search engines, online music, news and blogs were found to be the top five Internet services used in China. About half of the country’s users were found to visit Twitter-like microblogging sites, to share news and voice their opinions.