According to some estimation, China has about 150 – 200 million Internet users, contradicting with the official number of 111 millions. That means China’s Internet users may have very well surpassed the United States (154 million). While this may be a shocking news to some people, it’s not shocking to me. Overtime, I have heard from many of my friends that official data is under-estimated and actual numbers are much higher.
However, what’s real shocking is the amount of time Chinese spent online. Chinese Internet users spend on average15.9 hours per week, while Yahoo!, with the largest user community in this country, can only get its users stick around less than one hour per week. That’s 1.765 billion hours per week online in China, compared with 129 million hours per week online in the U.S.
So, what are Chinese doing by spending so much time online? Apparently, people log onto the Internet surfing the news, chatting with friends and families, etc. Although there is certain degree of censorship, the Internet is still a place where the media is relatively free. According to the CNNIC, 67.9% of online use in China is spent devouring news. By contrast, only 3% of Yahoo!’s U.S. traffic clicks over to news.
Another important fact is that there are 400 million cell phone users in China, and 80% of them have the mobile phones with the capacity connecting to the Internet. With the roll-out of 3G, there will be more mobile Internet access. I would expect China will lead the innovations in mobile search, which includes search for news, local business listings, entertainment, shopping, etc.
Update: eMarketer has more detailed analysis about China’s Internet users with comparison of the data from several sources. However, I do believe the under-estimation of China’s Internet users.