China has been going through an explosive internet adoption period, with mobile playing a key role in getting people online.

And now, the latest report published by state-affiliated research organization China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) shows that the percentage of Chinese users accessing the Internet via mobile grew to 83.4 percent as of June 2014, for the first time surpassing the percentage of users who access the internet via PCs (80.9 percent).

CNNIC July 1 In China, more people now access the internet from a mobile device than a PC

The figure for mobile internet access is up 2.4 percentage points in just six months from the end of 2013. On the other hand, desktop computer and laptop usage both continued their decline — the former by 0.1 percentage point to 69.6 percent, and the latter by 0.4 percentage point to 43.7 percent. In total, 80.9 percent of users went through traditional PC access (including desktop computers and laptops but excluding tablets) to go online.

CNNIC 2 In China, more people now access the internet from a mobile device than a PC

China’s internet population

New numbers released today also show that the overall number of new internet users is still climbing, even if the rate of growth may not be as fast as before.

As of June 2014, China had 632 million internet users and 527 million mobile internet users, according to CNNIC. This means the country tacked on 14 million new internet users and 27 million new mobile internet users in just six months. The internet penetration rate stood at 46.9 percent, up 1.1 percent from the end of 2013.

The amount of time each internet user spends online on average a week is about 25.9 hours, up 0.9 hours from the end of 2013. CNNIC credits this to more Wi-Fi access across the country, as well as the maturity of 3G coverage and the onset of 4G access.

And what do these users do online?

CNNIC notes that there has been a “rapid growth” in the use of mobile payment services, with the percentage of users increasing from 25.1 percent to 38.9 percent. In turn, this has also led the growth of m-commerce, group buying and lifestyle services such as online travel booking.

In particular, mobile shoppers numbered 205 million in China as of June 2014, growing 42 percent in just six months. The portion of mobile internet users who shopped online also rose from 28.9 percent to 38.9 percent.

CNNIC July 3 In China, more people now access the internet from a mobile device than a PC

Meanwhile, messaging continues to be a popular usage for smartphone users in China. The number of instant messaging users rose to 564 million by by June 2014, an increase of 32.08 million users from end 2013, while the usage rate hit a high of 89.3 percent.

As mobile becomes the number one way for internet users in China to go online, dissecting what they use the platform for is definitely going to be key for companies to figure out how to retain users, and it seems like we can expect the rivalry between Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent to heat up going forward.

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