With China’s booming e-commerce market, China’s internet population reached 649 million at the end of 2014 with 557 million Chinese accessing the internet on their mobile device.
However, growth is slowing. The data from the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) showed that, in 2013, China added 53.58 million new internet users, whereas in 2014, only 31.17 million users were added in the country, according to China Daily.
Growth in mobile internet users has been faster, as China added 57 million new internet users last year to reach 557 million, making up 86 percent of the internet population.
The overall slowing growth in new internet users can be attributed to the divide between urban and rural Chinese.
The CNNIC data reveals that the country’s internet penetration rate is only 47.9 percent — compared to 74.4 percent in the U.S. in 2013 for comparison — and rural users account for just over 25 percent of all Chinese internet users, reports Reuters.
At least on mobile, the trend in rural internet use is changing. In the first half of 2014, 40.3 percent of China’s mobile internet users were in fourth-tier and below cities, up from 39.6 percent at the end of 2013.
The number of Chinese online shoppers was up 20 percent in 2014 compared to 2013, as more Chinese than ever have been driven to the internet due to the lure of e-commerce. Users of payment services by Alibaba and Tencent increased by 17 percent last year.
With social media’s influence on Chinese shoppers, it’s no surprise that instant messaging, led by Tencent’s WeChat and QQ, saw an increase in users of 10 percent last year. However, microblogging, a market dominated by Weibo Corp., was down 11 percent. Weibo saw a 9 percent decline in users in 2013.
image credit: lars plougmann