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July 19, 2011

China's Online Population Soars to 485 Million

By Tammy Wolf, TMCnet Web Editor

Not only is China the world’s most populous country, but it also has the largest online population in the world, as revealed by a new report from the China Internet Network Information Center.

According to Yahoo News, the Internet penetration rate in China comes in at a staggering 485 million as of the end of last month, a 15.5 percent increase since last year. Up 14.8 percent from 2010, the number of people who use mobile devices to search the Web has touched 318 million, or 65 percent of the total.

This, as reported by the government-sanctioned industry group, is attributed to a severe uptick in Web surfing on mobile phones, as well as an explosion in economic growth.

However, while China’s Internet population grew 6.1 percent between January and June of this year, it’s a drop from the 9.4 percent increase the country observed during the same period last year, according to PCWorld.

For China, the rapid rise in its online population is mostly due to its newfound dependency on the mobile Internet, with many Chinese mobile users turning to their devices to shop online. Since last year, the number of users shopping online rose 7.6 percent from 172.66 million from the end of 2010.

Despite more than one-third of China’s 1.2 billion population being online, China’s communist government continues to constrain access to online material that may be considered pornographic or dissident. Dubbed the “Great Firewall of China” by China’s government, blocked Web content is a result of growing concern of the Internet creating social unrest.

With this news, it’s only timely that Apple is planning on offering its iPhone (News - Alert) through China’s largest mobile carrier, China Mobile Ltd. This move into the Chinese market would give the company access to hundreds of millions of new customers and further expand Apple’s (News - Alert) role in the country.

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Tammy Wolf is a TMCnet web editor. She covers a wide range of topics, including IP communications and information technology. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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