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China's embrace of digital tech outpaces Western growth
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According to a recent report by the Boston Consulting Group, China's use and acceptance of digital media and online service industries outpaces those of the United States and other Western countries.

The report, China's Digital Generations, analyzes the growth trends of high speed internet and digital services to predict its future growth rate. The findings were eye opening: "Conventional wisdom holds that Internet and mobile services in China are more primitive than those offered in the West. The reality is that China leads the West in certain Web 2.0 technologies and applications, for example, instant messaging (IM), community development, and cross-platform services,"Christoph Nettesheim, general manager of the Boston Consulting Group’s (BCG) Beijing office, said to China Youth Daily.

Chinese internet users outnumber Americans and they spend more time on internet activities, averaging 2.7 hours per day. To date there are 210 million active users online with 40 million joining in the last year. This equals the gross number of internet users in the United States. In mobile phones, China has 500 million users with 80 million joining in 2007. This is twice the number of gross users in the United States. However, gross numbers are not representative of the proportion of people who use mobile phones and the internet.

In the United States 94 percent of residents use mobile phones and 73 percent use the internet. In China these numbers are 41 percent and 16 percent respectively.

After 2,200 face-to-face interviews and 1,500 phone interviews, the report authors found different applications for the internet: 89 percent of Chinese internet users utilize instant messaging tools while only 39 percent of Americans do. Further, 84 percent of Chinese listen to music and watch movies online while only 34 percent of Americans do. This trend differs for e-commerce. The report found that 71 percent of Americans participate in buying and selling and 43 percent do some online banking. In China those figures are about 28 and 27 percent in that order.

The report suggests that demographics play a part in these differences. Most internet users in China are males aged 25 years or younger. They are more likely to be drawn to entertainment and social platforms. The report also explained why many Chinese are weary of e-commerce: 65 percent are worried about product quality; 38 percent are afraid of being cheated, and 33 percent are concerned about online payment security.

(China.org.cn by Ma Yujia, July 17, 2008)

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