The China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC, don’t hurt your brain trying to make the acronym fit ’cause it doesn’t) released its 29th China Internet Development Statistical Report on Monday. You can download the full report in Chinese here. The data were based on a survey (n=60,000) across 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities. We thought we’d offer up some of the more interesting stats.
513 million netizens! As expected, China surpassed the 500 million mark by the end of 2011. The total population of netizens increased by 55.8 million for the year (for growth of about 11 percent). Internet penetration now stands at about 38.3 percent of the total population, up 4 percent from the end of 2010. What counts as a netizen? Any resident of the PRC (excluding Hong Kong and Macao) age six and up who has has either a home phone number or a mobile phone and used the Internet in the last six months.
Broadband penetration: 98.9 percent of Chinese Internet users who go online with personal computer users access the Internet via broadband. Do they even still have dial-up?
Mobile Internet users: The number of netizens accessing the Internet with mobile devices increased 17.5 percent year-over-year to 356 million—about 36.5 percent of the total population. Growth in mobile Internet access actually slowed in the last year compared to the previous two years.
2.3 million websites: Major bounce-back after stricter regulations in registering websites saw a significant reduction in 2010, at the end of which there were only 1.9 million websites. That’s still down significantly from the 3.23 million websites there were in December of 2009.
Instant messaging is the most widely-used Internet application, with 80.9 percent of Internet users reporting that they use IM. Last year, search was the most widely-used app. My surmise is that with more urban, affluent, and educated demographics nearing saturation in Internet use, this rise reflects the fact that more growth in the total netizenry is coming from users in lower-tier cities and the countryside.
Email? We don’t need no stinkin’ email: Already quite low, email use in China has decreased even further, with only 47.9 percent of netizens reporting that they use it, down from 54.6 percent last year. In this IM- and SMS-mad country, this should come as no shock.
SNS use declined in the first half of the year, but was back somewhat by second, steadying out at about 47.6 percent penetration. (SNS doesn’t include microblogs like Weibo, which clearly took market share from the likes of Renren and Kaixin001).
The Year of Weibo: The microblog craze of 2011 may long be remembered. Use increased by 296 percent, and now nearly half—48.7 percent—of Chinese netizens are using microblogs.
Online news seems to have fallen somewhat out of favor with some netizens, having been supplanted (like so many other things) by microblogs as a source of news. Only 71.5 percent of netizens report using online news, down from 77.2 percent at the end of last year.
Entertainment applications like online music, games, and literature are slightly down, too, while online video usage has increased to more than 325 million users, or 63.4 percent of the online population.
Ecommerce continued to grow rapidly in China, with 20.8 percent more people reporting having used ecommerce and 21.6 percent more reporting that they used an online payment provider. 194 million people—or 37.8 percent of netizens—are now using ecommerce. That may seem impressive, but the comparable stats for 2010 in the U.S. and South Korea were 66 percent and 64.3 percent respectively. Ecommerce is still clearly a strong growth area on the Chinese Internet.
Search users grew in absolute number to 407.4 million from 374.5 million in 2010, but the percentage reporting that they use search has fallen slightly to 79.4 percent from 81.9 percent last year, when it topped the list of most widely-used applications. See instant messaging, above.
Group buying sites were the other big phenomenon besides microblogs in 2011. About 64.7 percent of Internet users purchased from Groupon or (as is much more likely) one of its Chinese counterparts, and the total number is up an astonishing 244.8 percent on last year. Alas, look for a collapse in that number for next year.
That’s all, folks. CNNIC usually takes at least a month before they release the English version of the report, which we’ll link to here when it becomes available.
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