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China internet users 'huge potential e-commerce market'
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Chinese internet users spend about 570 million hours online per day, making the country a huge potential market for e-commerce, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) said in a report released on Wednesday.

BCG calculated the number by assuming that 210 million-plus internet users went online for 2.7 hours per day on average last year.

"China has a large number of mobile and internet users. However, the penetration rate is still low," David Michael, BCG's Greater China head, said.

In 2007, the report said 615 million Chinese, or 47 percent of the population, used digital devices such as mobile phones and personal computers. In 2015, the figure was estimated to reach 1.2 billion, or more than 87 percent, the report said.

The market scale of the digital service and equipment market stood at 580 billion yuan (about 84 billion U.S. dollars) in 2007. It was expected to triple to 1.8 trillion yuan in 2015.

Eight years from now, online advertising was expected to surge eight times to reach 85 billion yuan, the report said.

"We can't estimate what percentage online advertising will account for in the whole advertising industry, but now it takes only a small portion and so does online advertising revenue. Our estimate is conservative," BCG's managing director, Michael Meyer, said.

Chinese internet users' habits differed from those of Westerners, he said. "Chinese use online chats and text messages much more than Western people, who use e-mail as their major means of online communication."

Yet only 28 percent of Chinese were willing to shop online, compared with 71 percent in the United States.

Most Chinese consumers were reluctant to shop online, as they were concerned about product quality, vendors' reliability and the possible loss of personal information.

The survey also found that only a small number of people would "definitely" shop online in the next two to three years, while the majority said they "might" do so.

(Xinhua News Agency July 10, 2008)

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