The worldwide mobile landscape is in a state of constant change. Even as I was researching this post, mobile usage stats have increased, leaving me with no alternative but to qualify all data herein with “as of this writing.”
Despite the constant flux (or maybe because of it), the numbers for mobile usage in China are fascinating, especially when compared to the same statistics in the U.S. We Americans tend to think of ourselves as technically competent people (whether it’s true or not) but some of these stats may surprise you.
Although sales of mobile devices have slowed, China’s m-commerce (mobile commerce) will lead the world with an expected $334 billion in sales this year — an incredible 85% increase over last year.1
Chinese estimated m-commerce activity for 2015 accounts for nearly 450% more than that of the U.S. Here in the States, it has been forecasted that m-commerce sales will go up 32%, putting U.S. m-commerce at 22% of total retail eCommerce.2 In the U.S., this accounts for 1.6% of all retail revenue. The same mobile usage stats for China represent nearly 8% of all retail sales in that country.
China has about 520 million online shoppers as of 2015, with the U.S. checking in at around 200 million. According to forecasts done by research firm Digi-Capital, tech-savvy China will do an astonishing $230 billion in mobile commerce in 2017.3 (Some estimate as high as $500 billion.) In the U.S., m-commerce will also increase to about $144 billion. With the meteoric rise of m-commerce, you can expect to see some serious shopping options for your mobile device.
Until recently America led the world in mobile app downloads. Now China has taken the lead with 20 billion app downloads in the first half of 2015. Of primary interest to the Chinese are language learning, brain training (think Lumosity) and other apps for education.4
Along with the impressive amount of purchases and app downloads made via mobile, one of the primary uses of mobile apps in China is social media, according to Innovation Is Everywhere. China’s social media population comes to 668 million, which is more than the U.S. and Europe’s put together.
So what have Americans been downloading? Apparently we also love making social connections. According to qz.com, the top three downloaded apps are for social media. Collectively, Facebook, Youtube and Facebook Messenger received approximately 323 million downloads in the first half of 2015.5 And I’m happy to report, of the top 25 apps downloaded, not one was a game!
Clearly, mobile usage stats point to a growing mobile-first retail world. When people start reaching for their cell phones rather than heading to their computers for things like shopping or social media, you don’t need to look for any more evidence than that. For more on the mobile-first economy, see “BRIC AND THE MOBILE FIRST ECONOMY” in this blog.
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- Mobile Accounts for Almost Half of China's Retail Ecommerce Sales, emarketer.com.
- Tech In Asia
- App Annie’s Market Index