A Country of Young Netizens

In my previous post, I talked about the unofficial number of China’s Internet users estimated at 150 – 200 million. Yesterday’s Xinhua news revealed the new statistics from China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC): the number of Internet users in China has reached 123 million, representing a 19.4 per cent growth since June 2005.

This means, in a year or two, China will “officially” surpass the United States and become the number one country in term of Internet users.

While this sounds encouraging for people who want to tap into the Internet boom in China, a closer look at the numbers showed some signs of a problem: more than 80 percent of the Chinese netizens are below age 35, with 40 percent of them between age 18 – 24. The ratio of high school students is even higher, at 50 percent

As Lu Bowang, CNNIC senior consultant, said, “It may be a worrying phenomenon that the ratio of Internet users above 30 years old is dropping because the Internet economy is too much focused on entertainment and young users,”

I remember my friends in China complained about the silliness and mindlessness of the content on the Internet. Compared with the US, majority of people on the Internet in China are young people seeking entertainment and fun, versus professionals searching for information and knowledge.

I believe one of the reasons is because there is less outdoor space in China. After school, those kids, full of energy, don’t have many places to go. Sitting in front of computers and escaping into cyber space becomes a natural alternative.

As for business people, they usually have their secretaries, typically young girls, to surf the Internet for them for any business related information. No wonder this resulted in a country of young netizens!

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12 thoughts on “A Country of Young Netizens

  1. I am not sure why it is so “troubling” that internet users in China skew young. I think the fact that there are more young people online contributes to the fact that QQ.com has a larger reach than myspace and why XuJingLei tops Technorati’s Top 100. Brands such as Pepsi, Nike and Juicy Fruit have all created open source marketing campaigns which have generated 10’s of thousands of consumer submissions of content. With so much interesting content (much of it user created), the Internet has become THE place for news and entertainment (esp. considering the alternatives on mainstream media).

    BBS (message boards) also have an incredible amount of conversations that are meaningful to brands. We estimate that there are over 4 million BBS messages a month talking about user experience and opinions regarding automobiles. One mobile phone site we track has 600,000 messages a month. We estimate there are 10x more messages talking about mobile phones in China compared to the US.

  2. Thanks for your comment on my blog. You have a good point. The Internet in China is a complete different phenomenon from the west / US. It’s exciting to see how it unfolding.

    I would very interested in seeing your data of Word of Mouth marketing, and consumers feedback on BBS. Please keep in touch.

  3. Internet use is only one of several things that China will soon pass the US on, not all of them positive accomplishments.

  4. Richard, I completely disagree with your comment. Many US corporations are either already in China or are scrambling to get in. The country has rules that companies need to navigate around but make no mistake, China will be the biggest market in the world, everything from cell phones to toilet paper.

  5. Any country that feels a need to censor Google isn’t a country that one needs to be concerned about in business ventures.

  6. Carl, I love your new icon. You guys look great in the photo! Very cute and handsome gentlemen :-).

    Richard, unfortunately, people in this country know very little about China’s Internet space except censorship. It’s probably less than 1% of what’s going on there. People basically can talk about most of every things on the Internet.

    Lars, I agree with you that China will be the biggest market in the world for virtually everything. Isn’t it scary?

  7. china is underestimated,, they could take us in more ways then one.. really easily

  8. Good point Steve. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” as it were.

  9. Teen gibbering back and forth on the internet doesn’t really count in all the reasons to say the internet is well used tho.

    Anyway a lot of folks in China does equate to a lot of use. But a lot of use also doesn’t equate to a lot of revenue.

  10. Thanks for the new stats. If Internet usage in China is surpassing that in the U.S., doesn’t that make the Chinese the largest net market? What does that mean for business? That’s where fortunes will be made over the next decade.

  11. Good analysis…

    professionals searching for information and knowledge.

    But seeking the information through the search engine giant Google is somewhat distorted in China now because of their govt tie-up. For example Image search ‘Tiananmen Square’ on http://www.google.com and http://www.google.cn. The results are blunting! The young netizens are being taught a distorted history…..

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