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Chinese Are the Most Advanced Internet Users, Says Study

July 12, 2010

Market research firm Harris Interactive (News - Alert) recently released a paper, "Digital Influence Index Study: Understanding the role of the Internet in the lives of consumers," that suggests that China possesses possibly the world's largest and most advanced population of Internet users, with approximately 330 million people online, many of whom take advantage of a wide range of Internet-based products, capabilities and services.
In addition, the report states that the "mobility gap," that is, the difference between what capabilities are available on mobile phones and smart devices and the percentage of owners that actually use them, is smallest in China, with the Chinese using 90 percent of available capabilities, compared to the Americans, French and British who each use less than half (an average of 40 percent) of their capabilities.
New related research from the Harris Poll suggests that perceptions of the level of advancement of Chinese Internet users often differs dramatically from the reality, at least among Internet users from the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, France and Germany. 
When the Harris Poll asked people from these countries which nation's Internet users (among the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France, Germany, China, and Japan) 'are the most advanced at adopting all features and capabilities that the Internet has to offer,' less than one in ten American, British, French and German adults named China. Canadians are more aware of Chinese usage, with 17 percent placing China in the top spot-higher than others, but relatively low on the whole.
Additional analyses of the three Harris Poll surveys conducted offer deeper insight into what people think about Internet usage in their own country versus others. For instance, nearly two in three (65 percent) Americans report that the U.S. (rather than China) has the most advanced Internet users of all countries they were asked to consider. In comparison, Japan comes out on top among Britons and Canadians, at 36 percent and 32 percent, respectively. 
The analyses also indicate, however, that there may be a correlation between age and perception. For instance, younger Britons demonstrate higher awareness than their older counterparts about Americans' level of advancement, with only 18 percent of those aged 16-24 (versus 30 percent of all Britons) identifying the U.S. as the most advanced country of those considered. Younger Britons aged 16-24 also seem in better touch than older ones with regard to Chinese Internet usage, with 12 percent naming China as the most advanced country, compared to only 1 percent of those aged 55-64.
The report further says that only 27 percent of the Chinese population is online, yet the percentage represents approximately 330 million people, and they are possibly the world's broadest and heaviest users of Internet-based products. This presents savvy marketers with an enormous opportunity to exploit the Internet in creative ways to promote, sell and distribute their products and services.
A new public opinion poll conducted by Harris Interactive for Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company finds that 38 percent drivers have been hit or nearly hit by a driver distracted by their cell phone.

Trupti Kamath is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Juliana Kenny

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