State-run China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) just released its 2013 annual report on the development of the Internet in rural China and it seems that researchers have very little confidence in China’s countryside population and its ability to navigate a modern cellphone. In fact, the team of researchers suggested that major telecom companies release a more simple device for the shaguahua, or, ‘stupid melons’ of rural villages.
Foreign Policy’s Liz Carter reports:
The report, released Nov. 27, cites the statistic that rural Chinese are underrepresented online: At the end of 2012, Internet penetration in the countryside was 23.7 percent, compared to 59.1 percent in cities. But the number of rural residents who used mobile phones to go online in 2012 increased by 20.9 percent, and rural Internet users surf the web via smartphone at a slightly higher rate than urban netizens (75.3 percent versus 72.3 percent over the past six months). To better serve rural residents, researchers suggested telecom companies attempt to shaguahua their products– that is, make them for “stupid melons,” Chinese slang for ‘idiots.’ Because “most residents of rural villages are not very knowledgeable or cultured,” the report argued, they will be less inclined to use cell phones to go online “if the equipment systems are too complicated.”
Carter also points out that by suggesting rural netizens need more simplified mobile devices, CNNIC removes blame from the government and its failure to properly deliver services to them. “If China’s rural netizen ranks grow slower than hoped, the report implies, it will because of those yokels in the countryside or the companies that failed to adapt — and not because of the Chinese government’s inability to provide services.”
Related: This info map puts China’s Internet presence in perspective.
[Image Credit: hjl]