38% of Internet Users in China Get Online Exclusively From Mobile Devices

China is already the world’s biggest mobile market, with 1 billion mobile users, and has one of the biggest Internet populations, as well. A recent study has determined that a big chunk of China’s Internet-using population get online exclusively from mobile devices like cellular phones and smartphones.

Ethnic minority delegates look at a photo taken with a smartphone in Beijing, Sunday, March 4, 2012. Studies say 38% of Internet users in China get online exclusively from mobile phones. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

OnDevice Research asks whether PCs will “cease to exist as the world’s developing markets turn to mobile only.” According to the research firm’s recent study, 38% of Chinese Internet users access online services solely from mobile devices. There is likewise a big disparity over mobile-only access between rural and urban areas, with 45% of rural Internet users accessing the Internet exclusively on their mobile phones, compared with only 29% of urban users.

Mobile devices are considered the default means of accessing the Internet outside of the cities, given that these are cheaper alternatives to full-fledged desktop and notebook computers. However, city-dwellers surf the Web on their mobile phones because these are quicker and more convenient alternatives to computers.

China has recently passed 500 million smartphone users although many of those who access the Internet exclusively from mobile devices still use feature phones, at 25%. Users who access from higher-end devices like the iPhone 4S are more active in mobile browsing, though, according to a report by Baidu.

What’s interesting here is the mobile banking uptake, with an increasing number of mobile users accessing their bank accounts from their mobile devices. The figure is currently at 25%, with 30% of these using smartphones.

The research finds that the rate of mobile Internet penetration is greater in developed countries than in more developed markets. This highlights the significance of mobile Internet access in emerging markets, given the lower price point of devices like smartphones and tablets compared to computers, with post-PC devices dominating in markets that prefer lower-priced devices.