With half a billion smartphone users, China’s internet future is pretty clear

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China Smartphone

Watching the Chinese tech scene has a kind of inoculating effect on a person when it comes to massive numbers. This is, after all, a country where that has over 618-million internet users and where an ecommerce outfit can realistically aim for the biggest tech IPO of all time.

Even in the face of those numbers however, it’s still pretty astonishing to see that smartphone ownership in the country is set to go past the 500-million mark later this year. According to internet market research house eMarketer, reaching that milestone means that it’ll account for just under three in 10 smartphone users worldwide.

China smartphone ownership

The company goes on to note that while China’s share of the worldwide total will decrease in coming years, falling as low as 26% by 2018, the rate at which people people in the country buy smartphones isn’t about to slow down.

eMarketer predicts that China will continue to see double-digit growth rates through 2015. By that sate, it reckons, when more than half of mobile phone users in the country and 42.2% of the total population will own and use a smartphone monthly.

The cumulative effect this is set to have on China’s internet usage patterns is also pretty interesting. While not all the country’s mobile internet users are on smartphones, the vast majority are (largely down to the fact that it’s so much easier to access the internet on a smartphone). At the end of last year, eMarketer says, nearly nine in 10 internet users in the country used the web via mobile phones; this year, the percentage will creep to 92.3%.

Within the next few years, the research house reckons, that number will increase to close on a 100%.

The increasing availability of smartphones and the ability to access the internet means that we’re likely to see a mobile content explosion from China in the next few years. Perhaps the best illustration of that is the rapid growth mobile social networks like WeChat have seen in the past couple of years and which eMarketer predicts will continue to grow through to 2018.

China mobile social networks

Image: michael davis-burchat via Flickr.

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