China’s mobile internet market more than doubled last year to CNY213.5 billion ($34.76 billion) and is forecast to expand another 77 per cent this year and top CNY1 trillion in just four years.

The country’s internet user base increased 5 per cent in 2014 to 648 million (see chart below, click to enlarge), with mobile internet users driving the vast majority of that growth and accounting for 86 per cent of the total, according to a report from Beijing-based iResearch.

China added 57 million mobile internet users last year, an increase of 11.4 per cent, and is expected to add another 47 million this year. Non-mobile internet users, meanwhile, will drop by 47 million between 2013 and 2015.

China internet users

The surge in revenue and users has been fuelled by rising smartphone penetration and the fact that e-commerce, online gaming and online advertising have quickly adapted to the mobile internet, iResearch said.

Smartphone sales rose 22 per cent last year to 390 million units.

Mobile commerce accounted for 54 per cent of internet revenue last year – a rise of 17.5 percentage points from 2013. It is expected to expand to 64 per cent by 2018. Mobile advertising represented almost 14 per cent of total revenue (up marginally from the previous year) and is expected to reach 23 per cent in 2018.

Mobile value-added services, which accounted for more than half of mobile internet revenue just three years ago, saw its market share drop to 19 per cent in 2014 and is predicted to shrink to 5.5 per cent in 2018.

Mobile games have also experienced a fall in market share over the past few years and the decline is expected to continue, with its share falling by half to 7.4 per cent in 2018.