BDA reported Thursday that China surpassed the United States to rank first among nations for its number of Internet users. The firm said that the China Internet Network Information Center counted 210 million Internet users in China at the end of 2007.
Nielsen/NetRatings counted 216 million U.S. users at the end of 2007. Assuming the markets have continued to grow at the same rates as last year, BDA's principal new media analyst, Bin Liu, concludes that China now has more Internet users than the United States.
The numbers represent market opportunities, but the quality of content, advertising, and e-commerce is better in the United States, according to BDA, which predicts that e-commerce will boom in China as businesses and retailers take advantage of the country's large and growing population of Internet users.
BDA chairman Duncan Clark said China also boasts the world's largest mobile communications user base, with about 560 million subscribers.
"Now it adds Internet users to its gold medal collection," he said. "While the volume of communications users will continue to boom, the focus now in China will increasingly shift to deriving greater value from these consumers."
Clark thinks China will become like a "new California," which will help create innovative applications and shape consumer trends worldwide.
Clark said that a strong economy, investments in broadband infrastructure, and consumer demand for online games, instant messaging, online music and video, and other applications have driven increased Internet use in China.