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China's Smartphone Population Passes Half a Billion

More than nine in 10 internet users will access the internet via mobile this year

More of the world’s smartphone audience lives in China than any other country around the globe—by far, according to eMarketer’s latest projections of worldwide mobile usage. We estimate that this year, the smartphone population in China will pass the half-a-billion mark, accounting for just under three in 10 smartphone users worldwide.

The country’s share of the worldwide total will decrease in coming years, falling as low as 26.0% by 2018. However, that doesn’t mean gains in China’s smartphone market will be particularly sluggish over the next few years, with double-digit growth rates predicted through 2015, 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.

While not all mobile phone internet users are smartphone users, most are—and this is another key addressable population in China. At the end of last year, nearly nine in 10 internet users in the country used the web via mobile phones; this year, the percentage will creep to 92.3%. By the end of our forecast period, almost every internet user in China will go online on their phones.

Mobile internet usage breeds mobile web content usage, naturally, and hundreds of millions of mobile phone users in China are already going on social networks on their phones at least monthly, with double-digit growth predicted through the end of next year. In 2014, about one-fifth of the total population of the country is expected to visit social sites on their phones.

eMarketer bases all of its forecasts on a multipronged approach that focuses on both worldwide and local trends in the economy, technology and population, along with company-, product-, country- and demographic-specific trends, and trends in specific consumer behaviors. We analyze quantitative and qualitative data from a variety of research firms, government agencies, media outlets and company reports, weighting each piece of information based on methodology and soundness.

In addition, every element of each eMarketer forecast fits within the larger matrix of all of its forecasts, with the same assumptions and general framework used to project figures in a wide variety of areas. Regular re-evaluation of each forecast means those assumptions and framework are constantly updated to reflect new market developments and other trends.

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