Older chinese learning websurfing

The Older Tech Savvy Chinese Love Their Internet and Smartphones

July 2, 2014 - Written By Cory McNutt


The People’s Republic of China (PRC) or simply China is the world’s most populous country with an estimated 1.35 billion people and is the second largest country by land area.  Over its long history, it has had economic cycles of prosperity and decline, however, since they introduced economic reforms in 1978, as of 2013, it is the world’s second largest economy by both nominal total GDP and purchasing power parity (PPP).  China is also the world’s largest exporter and importer of goods.  In the smartphone circles, they may be deemed an emerging nation, but they are growing rapidly and producing many of their own brand of smartphones – Xiaomi, ZTE, Lenovo and Huawei to name a few.

Just like in most countries, the young millennials – those born mid-80’s through the late 1990’s – rule when it comes to users of technology.  In fact, 92-percent of Chinese aged 18 – 30 own a smartphone, which is well above the global average of only 67-percent.  Caspar Luyten, chief regional officer of Telefonica Asia said, “Clearly, millennials are the smartphone generation.  The high smartphone penetration rate in China will keep young people connected to the Internet where they can acquire content at any time.”  

Being the proud country that they are, both their status as world’s largest smartphone maker and their economic growth, has really helped fuel the market for smartphones – especially in China where you can purchase a smartphone for the same price as a full-featured phone.  They predict that by 2017, 95-percent of all mobile phones sold in China will be a smartphone – it will become one of the top smartphone markets in the world, only after the U.S. and the European Union.  This is one of the reasons that U.S. and other manufacturers would like to make inroads into China – the sales potential is enormous.

With a growing population and rapidly expanding economy, there are many older Chinese to take advantage of new technology, and according to a GFK Roper Reports Worldwide study, the older Chinese population is embracing the Smartphones, Wi-Fi and the Internet.  The older population in China actually found the new technology ‘exciting’ and uses it as much as they can.  Over 35-percent of the 50-59 year loves this new technology and it actually rises to 41-percent for those over 60 years old!  This is much higher than the global average of 22-percent and 16-percent, respectively. Alfred Zhou, a Managing Director of GfK China, comments:

“These findings point towards China as being a particularly welcoming market in which to launch products and services that are embedded around new technology. With both genders and all age groups showing higher than average excitement and appetite for new technology, the opportunities within this market are clearly marked – and not just for the consumer electronics industry.  This applies equally for industries that can use technology to improve the delivery or performance of their products – such as contactless payment systems, in-car navigation or entertainment devices, or apps allowing consumers to control items such as their home central heating through their mobile phone.”

This is exciting news for smartphone and tablet manufacturers if they decide to venture into China, although it would be tough to compete in their highly competitive market.  Why is the older population embracing the new technology – nobody knows for sure, however, the internet opens up a whole new world to this generation that were, for the most part, kept away from the ‘outside’ world as they were growing up.  Maybe it is their thirst for knowledge and maybe it is because the young people take the time to teach them how to use the technology…in China, growing old is an honor. Growing old in China also means its time for a smartphone and the internet.

China Tech Use Graph