What to Know about Chinese Mobile Learners Before Entering the Market


With the rapid expansion of mobile internet, online education is undergoing radical transformation with more mobile learners studying while on-the-go to make the best use of their fragmented free time. The increase of smart device penetration, WiFi and broadband connection and software is making mobile learning (or m-learning) an increasingly popular sector for users.

As the online education craze in China lures VC money, more startups focused on this sector have emerged in the past year. Let’s take a look at some aspects of the m-learning market in China, as presented in a report jointly released by online education site Hujiang and Baidu Education in October this year.


Mobile learning users have an unbalanced gender ratio, with 58.4% female and 41.6% male. Users aged between 19-30 account for 70.2% of the total students, indicating that college students or graduates who just started their career are the most active mobile learners. The 31-40 and 15-18 age groups follow, to account for 14.1% and 10.3% of users respectively.

MLearning-1Mobile Learner Distribution by Age

Most mobile learners have received higher education and use mobile learning as a way to further their studies. Junior college or university students account for 32.8%  of users while white collar workers represent 20.5%.

In terms of geographical distribution, second-tier cities take nearly half at 44.7%, while first-tier, third-tier and fourth-tier cities account for 26.5%, 18.1% and 8.8% of the total respectively.



Language learning dominates the m-learning market with an 89.3% market share, driven by the huge English learning demand in China. The share for other courses are: interests (27.3%), occupational tests (13.8%), techniques (13.5%), test prep for overseas study (7.6%), CGAT (China Graduate Admission Test) (6.9%), primary education (6.6%), marketing and management (3.1%), pre-school education (2.0%) and others (0.9%). 


Desktop PCs, which represent 69% of the market, are still the most important means for students to get access to online courses, but smartphones are catching up rapidly to account for 65%, while tablets account for 14%. The utilization rate of smartphone is higher in lower tier cities.


Apple users constitute a major part of smartphone m-learners, accounting for 30% of the total, while Samsung and Xiaomi follow to account for 15.8% and 14.5%, respectively.


How Much

Although the free-to-play or free-to-learn mindset is still prevalent in China, as reflected by the report that 27.3% of the users in the survey want free services, the Chinese payment behavior is gradually changing with 29.1% willing to pay more than RMB500 (US$82) for services they receive per year.


 image credit: Shutterstock