The mobile internet tipping point in China

China overtook the US...

It seems pretty clear that smartphone growth and usage in China are in high-speed mode.

Recent research like IDC’s 2013 Q1 China Mobile Phone Quarterly Tracker talks up the growth trend, suggesting that smartphone shipments in China will grow 6 percent year-on-year, and will exceed 460 million units by 2017.

China undoubtedly is a hot market for mobile technology. Perhaps more significantly,  the country is at a tipping point with smartphones now influencing nearly every aspect of everyday life.

That’s according to GroupM China, a WPP company, and a survey the company carried out on which it reported the results last week.

What’s really interesting is seeing how people in China use their devices with some high-usage activities either radically different to such usage in Western countries; or, pointing the way for similar usage in some countries, no matter the cultural and societal differences, as what you can do with your smartphone offers universal appeal.

Choice headline metrics from the survey:

  • 80 percent of survey respondents sleep with their phones at arm’s reach, and 73 percent wake up to their phone alarms.
  • 95 percent are busy on their phones before bed – creating what GroupM terms “the 25th hour in the day.”
  • 66 percent use their phones to break off a relationship.
  • 65 percent admit to using their smartphones to “beautify their personal photos” before sharing them.
  • 91 percent of respondents say they now prefer to use their phones to check the time – perhaps some useful intelligence for the watch industry, especially with major disruption to that industry in Western markets looking likely and imminent.
  • 73 percent have scanned a QR code.
  • Over 50 percent use their smartphones to interact with TV programmes.
  • 60 percent of apps are never used one week after downloading.
  • In 2012, daily instant messenger message volumes exceeded SMS.
  • In 2012, mobile ecommerce in China reached ¥50 billion (about £5.4bn, €6.2bn, $8.14bn).

GroupM says the survey results were drawn from 981 Chinese smartphone users evenly split by gender and representing various city tiers across China, and collected via mobile phone. Although the numbers seem puny compared to the internet population in China, the activities and trends seem pretty credible and broadly reflecting what you read elsewhere.

GroupM has also published “China at your fingertips 2,” a very cool video that presents much of the data – and a lot more – in a pleasing audio-visual experience.

(If you don’t see the video embedded above, watch it at YouTube.)

A great deal of useful information.

And one additional thought, this one from Japan as reported by TNW on July 12: Stickers: From Japanese craze to global mobile messaging phenomenon.

I bet that crosses to China fast.

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Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

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