China’s massive Internet population has continued to grow, with more than 538 million people by the end of June, according to a Chinese government-affiliated research group.
The number of Chinese people accessing the Internet via mobile devices has increased to a record high of 388 million at the end of June, a report said on Thursday. Smartphones are the key driver of the Web user growth — for a host of reasons, notably more affordable cost —
Mobile phones have become the most widely used devices to access the Internet, boosted by the growing popularity of smartphones and a large number of mobile applications, according to the report by the China Internet Network Information Center.
The new pattern is partly a result of China's mobile Internet prosperity, including easier Web access and lower gadget price tags.
"These factors have reduced the threshold for the use of mobile intelligent terminal, which led to the transformation of the ordinary mobile phone users to mobile Internet users," a translated Chinese press release said.
In four years, the country's Internet usage has grown exponentially, with 298 million users at the end of 2008 and 513 million in January. CNNIC said that growth started to slow in 2011, but China is still atop the Internet usage pyramid.
To increase Internet penetration further, the nation will have to target citizens with lower education levels, along with people living in less developed areas of the country. In a survey of people who do not use the Internet, the CNNIC found that 54.8 percent of respondents did not use it because of "not understanding computers or the Internet."
The report also pointed out that 27.7 percent of mobile Internet users watch videos online with mobile devices and cellular phones. CNNIC said in its bi-annual report that half of the new users were from rural areas, of which 60 percent accessed the Internet from their mobile phones.
The increase of mobile Internet users has prompted an increasingly large number of companies to improve their footprints in the sector.
Companies, such as Alibaba Group, Tencent Holdings Ltd, and Qihoo 360 Technology Co, are trying to attract users from the very first moment they touch a mobile phone by providing operating systems, pre-installed applications, or releasing self-brand mobile phones.
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