Tuesday, April 10, 2007

What China's 450 million mobile users "Searching" for?

Information and Statistics provided by mInfo® Inc. (www.minfo.com), the leading Chinese mobile search provider.

WAP is actively used by only 30-40 million of the 450 million mobile users in the country, whereas SMS has over 90% adoption. mInfo has experienced tremendous growth in 2006 adding users at an average monthly growth rate of over 70% and ending the year with 6+ million registered users.

In general, mobile searchers are looking for answers surrounding their daily lives. mInfo's data shows that searches were spread fairly evenly amongst the basic subject areas of Local Search (41%), Informational Search (31%) and Rich Content Search (28%). Local search involves finding directory information for locations such as bars, hotels and ATMs.

Informational search relates to finding things such as stock quotes, sports scores, price promotions and flight schedules. Rich content search relates to finding ring tones, pictures, mp3, games, etc. mInfo offers over 30 search categories within these three areas. Mobile search traffic seems to pick up each day around noon and ramps steadily until about 10pm when traffic peaks. Fridays and Saturdays are the most heavily trafficked days for mobile search services.

The five leading search categories in 2006 were:

3.Ring tones/Pictures
5.Weather forecast

mInfo also find that search diversity is much higher on mobile vs. the Web. According to traffic data from a leading Chinese Internet search engine, the top 1000 keywords account for over 70% of all search traffic. However, for mobile search, the top 1000 queries account for only about 20% of the searches.

The top 5 mobile search terms for 2006 were (terms translated):

2.Jay Chou
3.Pretty girl

Not only is the usage behavior of mobile searchers different from internet searchers, they are also different in their profile. With only about 120 million Internet users in China and a significant portion accessing the web at Internet cafes or schools, Web searchers are predominantly young people age 24 or under. Although mobile searchers are still relatively young compared with the total population, about half of this population are 25 and over. Below is a quick breakdown of the age groups for mobile searchers based on surveys mInfo has conducted with its users.

The 19-24 year old group seemed most interested in ring tones and pictures while the 25-29 year old group was more heavily weighted towards local search. The 30-34 year old group tended to spend more time on travel and news related searches. It's fascinating to see the interests of users change with age as they progress through different stages in life.

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