More Chinese use smartphones to access the Internet

More Chinese use smartphones to access the Internet

CHINA - Nearly 80 per cent of Chinese people who use the Internet are using smartphones to go online, the highest proportion ever, industry research revealed on Wednesday.

The nation added 43.8 million mobile Internet users in the first six months of this year, lifting the total population to 464 million, according to the China Internet Network Information Center.

The total number of Chinese Internet users also hit a record high, adding 26.56 million to 591 million, said the centre.

The mobile Internet sector is showing a stronger growth momentum than the traditional Internet front, said the report, giving credit to the rapid expansion of third-generation communication infrastructure and the increasing penetration rate of smartphones.

The nation's Internet companies are eyeing the mobile business, hoping investments in the emerging segment could yield higher profits.

Earlier this year, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, the most valued Internet company in China, spent $880 million investing in micro-blogging portal Weibo.com and navigation company AutoNavi Holdings Ltd to get a bigger foothold in the mobile world.

Tencent Holdings Ltd, owner of the popular instant messaging service WeChat, is looking to commercialize the app used by 300 million people by introducing a payment feature to the product.

On Tuesday, Baidu Inc, which runs the country's most-used search engine and is often considered to be slow to move into the mobile sector, decided to purchase the top app store in China -91 Wireless - spending $1.9 billion (S2.4 billion). The company only spent roughly $22.5 million on acquisitions last year, according to Bloomberg News.

"Going mobile is every Internet company's priority," said Dong Xu, an analyst with Beijing consultancy Analysys International. "Industry leaders such as Alibaba and Tencent have been successfully mapping out plans to tap into the new area."

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