The growth of Internet and mobile phone use in China should spur the uptake of wireless data, making the mainland a more promising mobile Internet market than first thought. According to a report by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), access to the Internet was mainly limited to high-income nations in 1995 due to high tariffs and costs of PCs. By last year, countries from the low-income group made up 11 per cent of all Internet users worldwide. The growth has been especially phenomenal in China. The number of people online in China has grown 187.2 per cent year on year from 60,000 in 1995 to 33.7 million last year. China overtook the United States as the country with the most mobile subscribers last year, with 76 per cent of mobile-phone subscribers in China being male. The ITU report predicted the growth of the mobile Internet would follow the same growth pattern because of the high penetration rate of mobile phones in the country and the growing popularity of short message service (SMS). While wireless application protocol (WAP) service has been offered by China Telecom and China Unicom since 2000, SMS use far outstrips WAP as the most successful mobile data service in the mainland. For China Mobile, the usage volume of SMS increased from 126.7 million messages in the first half of 2000 to 4.7 billion messages in the second half last year, representing an average compound half-yearly growth rate of 235 per cent. On Lunar New Year's Day, February 12, more than 100 million short messages were delivered over China Mobile's network, generating revenue of about 10 million yuan (about HK$9.37 million) in a single day. Since May 1 cross-network SMS has been available and SMS usage is expected to grow dramatically. Messaging is by far the most used mobile data application at 41 per cent, followed by stock transactions at 16 per cent and access to news at 12 per cent, according to a China Telecom market research report. The ITU report charted the growth of mobile-phone development to Internet development and observed that the growth curves for the two technology sectors were similar with just a two-year gap. 'The two industries have exhibited remarkably similar growth patterns since the start of the 1990s, but with a lag of about two years. The level of penetration of the Internet at the end of last year with 8.2 users for every 100 inhabitants worldwide is almost identical to the penetration of mobile phones at the end of 1999. This two-year lag might be explained by the fact that the formative moments in the growth of these industries occurred just under two years apart when digital mobile phones were launched commercially on July 1, 1991, by Radiolinja, in Finland, while graphical browsers were launched in April 1993.' The report concluded that mobile Internet development, which was a convergence of the two industries, was expected to grow faster than the Internet and the mobile phone industries in China, even as the country wrestled towards a 3G standard.