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China’s internet sector is already huge, but it’s about to get gargantuan

Adam Pasick
By Adam Pasick

Senior Editor

The forthcoming IPO of Alibaba is expected to be the world’s biggest stock offering this year, thanks to its dominance in China’s giant e-commerce sector. In fact, nearly everything about the Chinese internet sector is super-sized: It has a staggering 632 million internet users, compared with a mere 277 million in the United States. Last year the number of smartphones and tablets sold in China nearly doubled, from 380 million to 700 million. And according to a new study by consulting firm McKinsey, the really impressive growth is yet to come.

Only 46% of Chinese are online (compared with 87% of Americans), and an even smaller share of businesses use the web. McKinsey argues that China’s largely consumer-focused internet is about to catch on with with businesses, boosting productivity and creating enough new products to add up to 14 trillion yuan ($2.25 trillion) to Chinese GDP by 2025.

Here are a few highlights from McKinsey’s research:

Here’s where China stands today, compared with the US:

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China’s Internet economy is already huge:

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Banking and health care are poised to reap the biggest benefits from going online:

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The internet will have a big impact on China’s productivity, which is very low:

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Any jobs lost to the internet will be more than offset by gains:

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