The China Boom1 | 2 |
According to the Ministry of Information Industry, a record of 8.48 million new mobile subscribers was reached in January 2008, with the total number of Chinese mobile users passing 555 million. At the same time, fixed-line subscriptions fell to less than 364 million, continuing a sixth-month decline. Additionally, the number of desktop PCs, laptops and servers sold in the country reached 23.37 million in 2006, an increase of 17.5 percent from 2005.
In terms of Internet access, according to the latest report by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), as of Dec. 31, 2007, there were more than 210 million Internet users in China, up 53.3 percent from 2006. Broadband users reached 163 million, of which 140 million have broadband Internet access at home, up 35.7 percent. Beijing and Shanghai boast the largest Internet coverage rates of 46.6 percent and 45.8 percent, respectively.
The 2006-2010 IDC forecast stated, “the China CBT market was estimated at 26.8 million candidates in 2006, increasing by 19.6 percent over 2005. The corresponding revenue reached $321.4 million with a year-on-year growth rate of 14.5 percent. The market will reach 52.8 million candidates by 2010 with a 2006-2010 [compound annual growth rate] estimated at 18.5 percent, over 10 percentage points higher than that of the overall testing market. The market expansion comes from the emerging CBT test fields, the conversion of traditional paper-and-pencil testing (PPT) to CBT, and the growth of the testing market itself.
“In 2006, the China CBT delivery services market … increased with an annual growth rate of 27.7 percent. With the China CBT market maturing over the past few years, the delivery services market will continue to show strong growth during 2006 to 2010 and is expected to increase at a [compound annual growth rate] of 45.9 percent [through 2010].”
With huge social demand, government support and technology platforms available, China’s certification and testing market has undergone a transformation and explosion. This has gone far beyond the imagination of the West. The following facts illustrate this:
- China was the first country to introduce simulation items in Microsoft MCP programs, doing so back in 2004 before any global launch.
- Out of 2 million CBTs recorded by the Ministry of Labor in China, more than 70 percent have been simulation-based since 2000.
- The scale of testing is daunting: 150,000 testing computers were launched in a single test (China Banking Professional Certification).
- Performance-based testing is being widely used as a way to combat cheating.
- Advanced technologies and stringent test-management procedures are being applied to ensure test security.
Alex Tong is vice president of ATA Inc. He can be reached at email@example.com | 2 |