China is now home to over 618 million Internet users, 80 percent of which access the Web via their smartphones.
According to the latest stats from state-run China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), the increasing popularity of mobile devices drove the number of mobile Web users in the country to 500 million, as of end-December 2013. Some 80 million mobile Web users were added last year.
Overall number of Web users climbed 9.5 percent over 2012 to 618 million in 2013, with almost 250 million accessing the Internet to watch or download video content via their smartphones, up 83.8 percent from the year before. Over 55 percent of Chinese netizens were under 30 years old.
The rapid growth in smartphone owners fueled the increasing consumption of video, music, and instant messaging apps over the past year, said Liu Bing, deputy director at CNNIC, in a report by China Daily, who said the deployment of LTE or 4G networks in the country will continue to drive data volume over the next few years.
According to the center, almost 28 million online users no longer microblogged over the past year, marking the first-ever dip in numbers for this segment. The findings indicated growing demand for mobile instant messaging apps such as WeChat were taking its toll on microblogs, or Weibos. "People who were active on both platforms started abandoning their Weibo accounts in 2013," Liu said.
China had some 280 million Weibo users last year, according to CNNIC, which noted that the country's top Weibo apps lost nearly 6 million users in 2013.
The Chinese online community may be losing interest in microblogs, but it is spending more money shopping on the Internet.
In an earlier report this week, China's biggest e-payment vendor Alipay revealed that the average per capita online transactions--which include shopping, money transfers, and bill payments--clocked at over 10,000 yuan (US$1,642) last year.