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Mary Meeker's charts show China's explosive mobile market potential


by Ron Miller
Ness Blogger 

One of the many things that jumped out at me in Mary Meeker's always excellent State of the Internet report, released earlier this week, was the explosive mobile growth in China. That China with its huge population and growing middle class is a fertile market is hardly surprising, but just how far along it is might be.

And if you're a mobile developer with ambition, you may want to include China in your business plans.

Let's start with smartphone ownership. As you can see from the chart below, China surpassed the US in total number of iOS and Android phones owned some time in the first quarter of this year. That's fairly remarkable in itself, but it doesn't tell the whole story of course.

China   US Smartphone OS comparsion chart

As TechCrunch reported in April, the US remains the biggest market for the iPhone, but China is the fastest growing and demand in the EU (and US) are beginning to plateau, which might be a good time to show another of Meeker's charts comparing Gross Domestic Product (GDP). 

China versus EU, US GDP

As you can see, the EU's GDP is now on par with China's and the US is only marginally ahead. That means the biggest markets moving forward are likely to be US, China and EU in that order (until perhaps China passes the US). That literally turns your business world view on its head.

Let's explore one more chart on mobile usage. So we are seeing a huge rise in the number of smart phones bought with a corresponding rise in GDP. The Chinese spend more time on the internet in general than their counterparts in the US and they are using their mobile phones to access the internet almost twice as much. 

Chinese Internet and Mobile US

That Chinese users are accessing the Internet more from the mobile devices or using the Internet more than other forms of media is probably not surprising either since mobile phones provide easy access to the internet for a relatively low price point.

Finally let's look at how much money Chinese are spending on the internet and as you can see it's considerable. Alibaba/Taoboa has surpassed Amazon and eBay in total merchandise volume.

chart 4

This chart is harder to interpret, but it's likely if the volume is there, the sales are too because we certainly know they are with Amazon and eBay. 

All of this data suggests that as a mobile developer you have to be paying attention to this.

You have a fertile and growing market full of people who are mobile savvy, use their phones a lot and are gaining disposable income.

You might not be in China now, but if you're smart, you'll be thinking about it on your mobile product road map because the market potential is staggering and you would be foolish to ignore it.

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