A man plays with his mobile phones in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. [Photo/China Daily] 

Tencent Holdings Ltd’s messaging services were by far the most popular mobile apps in China in 2016, leading steady growth in the world’s largest internet and smartphone market, a report showed on Sunday.

WeChat remained the most heavily used app in the country in 2016, with almost 80 percent of the online population employing the social media service frequently, the China Internet Network Information Center said in its annual report.

Tencent’s QQ took second place, while Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s online platform Taobao came in third. Baidu Inc’s mobile app and Alipay, the payments service run by Alibaba-affiliate Ant Financial, rounded out the top five.

The rankings underscore how China’s “BAT” internet triumvirate-Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent-dominate the country’s internet industry. Internet users in the Chinese mainland climbed roughly 6 percent to 731 million-about twice the population of the United States.

The number of people who accessed the internet through a mobile device surged more than 12 percent to 695 million. China has become a major source of revenue for smartphone industry players from Qualcomm Inc to Apple Inc. But, the domestic scene is again lorded over by a clutch of local players, including Oppo Electronics Corp, vivo Communication Technology Co and Huawei Technologies Co.

One of the fastest-growing areas in 2016 was ride-hailing, according to the CINIC. That segment is dominated by Didi Chuxing. Users of ride-hailing services such as Didi’s leapt 38 percent to 168 million in the second half of 2016, from the first half. There were also 225 million people who used an app only to call taxis.

China Daily

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