We have written earlier about some of the key trends driving growth in mobile web among emerging market consumers. The three main factors touched upon were the decreasing cost of mobile phones, better infrastructure, and the decreasing cost of mobile data. With these three things in mind, the China Internet Network Information Center (CINIC) released numbers today stating that mobile web had overtaken desktop internet use in China. The CINIC put the total number of mobile internet users in the country at 388 million, more than the number of people living the U.S, and the highest number for any country in the world.
What is equally as surprising in this number, is that more than 50% of this year-on-year growth in mobile web users came from rural areas. It is not the (relatively) wealthy urban Chinese who are the main driving force behind the growth, rather it is the considerably less affluent rural demographic which has helped make China a hotbed for mobile Internet use. The key to this phenomenon has been the increasing affordability of smartphones. With some Android powered smartphones selling for less than $60, it no longer costs a fortune for consumers in developing nations to upgrade from a standard feature phone.
While the growth of mobile web in China is certainly exciting, the trend on a global scale is nothing new. In many emerging markets, mobile is the most popular way, if the not the only way, for people to access the web. In Kenya, for example, 70% of urban respondents to a McKinsey survey access the internet, thanks in large part to a 95% penetration rate for Internet capable phones in urban Kenya. In India, nearly 60% of mobile web users never or infrequently access the internet on a computer. As mobile phone use continues to grow across the developing world, as it has in China, so too will Internet use. This growth presents a spectacular opportunity for brands to engage with consumers who were previously unreachable via most digital channels.
How would you engage with hundreds of millions of mobile web users in emerging markets? Let us know on Twitter: @Jana