China ended last year with a total Internet population of 564 million people and a penetration rate of 42.1 percent, according to a new government report noted by Techweb.

All told, the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) estimated 50.9 million new Internet users logged on in 2012, raising the country’s penetration by 3.8 rate percentage points since the end of 2011. Mobile Internet users stood at 420 million, with a year-over-year increase of 64.4 million people. By comparison, CNNIC figures for the first half of 2012 had estimated 538 million Internet users.


Desktop computer usage fell by almost 3 percentage points in 2012, settling at 70.6 percent of users, while laptop users also dropped to 45.9 percent. Meanwhile, mobile usage grew to 74.5 percent, up from 69.3 percent.

With mobile outpacing PC growth, the Chinese market is expected to continue skewing heavily toward mobile users, and tech companies are working to quickly tailor their products accordingly.

Microblogging users jumped up in 2012, with 309 million at the end of the year, up 58.73 million from 2011. Ecommerce also improved, as there were 242 million online shoppers in the country.

The Chinese government projected earlier this month that the country’s Internet population will soar to 800 million users in 2015. That assumes quarterly growth of about 11 million netizens.

Image credit: ChinaFotoPress / Getty Images