BEIJING, July 19 (UPI) -- Mobile phones have overtaken computers as the most common way for people to connect to the Internet in China, officials said.
The report from the China Internet Network Information Center said desktop computers are no longer the favored method for China's 538 million connected citizens to get online.
A fall in smartphone costs has prompted the growth of mobile Web use, especially among Internet users in rural areas, it said.
"Mobile phones are a cheaper and more convenient way to access the Internet for [residents in] China's vast rural areas and for the enormous migrant population," the state-run CINIC said.
Mobile Internet users have increased to 388 million, up almost 10 percent since the start of the year, CINIC said.
"The emergence of smartphones under 1,000 yuan [$157] sharply lowered the threshold for using the devices and encouraged average mobile phone users to become mobile Web surfers," it reported.
Western experts said the trend followed similar growth in other parts of the world.
"We're moving to what we call next-generation users," Bill Dutton, a professor of Internet studies at the University of Oxford, told the BBC.
"They're likely to have three or four devices in their homes, therefore they're able to integrate computing into their lives wherever they are."
There is rapid adoption of mobile devices among rural communities, he said.
"There's a wave of people coming online that would not otherwise be able to afford to be there."
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