Chinese netizens are young and mobile

Once every six months, the Chinese government publishes a research report on Internet development in China. If you can read Chinese, you can get the original 79 page report here. Otherwise, read on for some of the information that I find most interesting.

As of the end of 2010, there were 457 million Chinese Internet users, an increase of about 73 million from last years data. That places the Internet penetration rate at about 34%, leaving plenty of room for growth over the coming years. At current rates, we can expect another 365 million Chinese people to come online by the end of 2015. As a point of reference, China’s Internet population increases by about the population of Canada every six months and should grow by more than the total population of USA within 5 years.

Number of Chinese Internet Users

Mobile Usage High and Rising

Some 303 million Chinese Internet users, or ‘netizens’ as the report calls them, access the Internet via mobile devices, an increase of 69 million from last year. Mobile Internet usage is increasing almost as fast as total Internet usage. In other words, for almost every new Chinese netizen that comes online, there is one new Chinese mobile netizen to match.

It seems Chinese netizens are accessing the Internet from a greater variety of devices as well.  While mobile Internet usage is increasing, so is the usage of desktops and laptops as well. Desktop usage rates increased from 73% to 78%, mobile device usage from 61% to 66% and laptop usage from 31% to 46%.

User Characteristic

56% of Chinese netizens are male and 44% female. Note that there are significantly more males in China than females due to gender-selective abortions, so the Internet usage rate amongst females is closer to that of males than it appears.

There was a large increase in the percentage of users over the age of 30 this year, but those under 30 still account for almost 60% of the total online population.

Age Distribution of Chinese Internet Users

While some of the biggest cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, have Internet penetration rates greater than 60%, less developed regions have much lower penetration rates. A total of 16 provinces still have less than one-third of their population online.

Internet Usage in China

In 2010, search usage jumped 33% to take the top spot of all ‘Internet applications’ included in the user pole. 375 million people, 82% of all netizens, now use search engines.

The number of online shoppers increased 49% to reach 160 million. Microblog usage and group buying was recorded for the first time this year, estimating the number of Chinese microbloggers at 63 million and the number of people that use group buying websites at 19 million. These activities are expected to continue to grow at rapid rates throughout 2011.

The number of Chinese social network users increased from 176 million to 235 million. This is not a migration from the more traditional forums however, as the number of forum users increased from 117 million to 148 million.

Chinese netizens are spending about 18 hours per week online on average.