A Portrait of Cell Phone Use in China

china1It’s amazing what can happen in a few short decades. It hasn’t even been 50 years since Nixon first visited China and opened diplomatic relations with the country. This was a bold move. Nixon was renowned for his staunch anti-communism and China at the time was strictly communist. There were virtually no capitalistic elements. Now,China is one of our greatest trading partners.

In 1973, a year after Nixon’s initial visit to China, another revolutionary idea came into being. It came from Martin Cooper, a Motorola researcher, responsible for ushering in this new era. He made the first cellular phone call. The age of the mobile phone had begun.

It may be amazing to think what can happen in such a brief amount of time, but it’s even more awe-inspiring to think about how these events interacted. Cellular usage and the development of China exist symbiotically. Cellular devices are becoming more popular in the country as it continues to evolve economically and technologically. The complete portrait of cellular usage in China is a large one and it is growing by the day.

China’s Population and Cellphone Use

China is the Earth’s most populous nation. According to World Bank statistics, the nation holds over 1.3 billion people. That’s more than a seventh of the world’s population condensed into a single country. When looking at the number of mobile phone users in the world compared to those in China, a more astonishing picture arises. China manages to have an even greater slice of the pie. The total number of cell phones in the world hovers around 6 billion. China by itself has over 1 billion. Specifically, 1.04 billion. This means that, one in six of the world’s cell phones are used in China.

Contrast: Cell Phones in China vs. the United States

Even though China is no longer a purely communist state, there is still a heavy amount of government regulation. So much so that, in fact, that there are only three mobile phone service providers: China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom. All of them offer 3G service using specific technology that’s unique to the country.

By contrast, the United States has eight major providers. There are countless others around the country. In addition, there are several unique characteristics for the Chinese mobile phone system. These include that all plans in China must be prepaid. This contrasts with the American system, where most people can opt to pay their bill at the end of the month. There is also a system to call individuals so that the receiving party can listen to songs before answering the call. Surprisingly, this is detested by foreigners although embraced by many Chinese youth.

Future Trends for Cell Phones in China

china2Three distinctive trends in the Chinese marketplace are the increased usage of multimedia phones, low prices in rural markets, and the growth of the phone market in general. More multimedia phones are being sold than ever before. These aren’t the simple and reliable Nokia phones anymore. Now they’re becoming complex with features like picture messaging and GPS.

In addition, rural markets are getting greater access to all phones, as over 60% of phones will cost less than $230. Considering the prevalence of the rural worker in China, this is an important development. Yet, both point to the same indisputable premise. Cellular usage in China is growing. And this doesn’t appear to be slowing down.

About the author: Paul Aaronson is a freelance writer on technology, gadgets, gadget insurance, computer software and other relevant issues. Those considering phone insurance should consider going with Protect Your Bubble, a cell phone insurance brand.

photo credits: pushbeyond and mforman


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