Beijing: China's netizen population, the world's largest, reached 632 million by the end of June, an industry report said on Monday.
Figures from the China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC) showed that there were 14.42 million new internet users in the first six months of the year, Xinhua reported.
Compared to the 53.58 million new internet users added last year, the increase in the first half of this year was relatively small.
According to Liu Bing, the CNNIC Deputy Director, this is partly because the decline in sales of smartphones has consequently led to fewer new netizens.
Official statistics showed that in the first three months of 2014, shipments of smartphones hit 100 million, down 24.7 percent from the same period last year.
According to the report, about 178 million internet users were rural residents, accounting for 28.2 percent of the entire online population.
The number of mobile internet users totalled 527 million as of June 30, up by 26.99 million from the end of 2013, the CNNIC report said.
According to the report, the 34th of its kind since 1997, Chinese netizens spent a weekly average of 25.9 hours on the Internet, an increase of 0.9 hour from the figure recorded in the second half of 2013.
In addition to online shopping and entertainment, China's online population also browses the internet for financial and medical services, according to the report.
It said that by the end of June there were 292 million internet users using online payment methods, with 205 million of them using their mobile phones for making such payments.
The number of instant messaging users hit 564 million as of June 30, of which 459 million were mobile users, an increase of 28.42 million from the end of 2013.
The emergence of mobile internet has also spurred growth in the number of users playing online games and watching videos on smartphones, which surged 36.48 million in the first half to 252 million for games and 47.09 million to 294 million for video streaming, said the report.
Chinese netizens have become less interested in microblogs and social networking websites, with the number of microblog users declining by 5.43 million from the end of 2013 to 275 million, it stated.
Social networking websites' users dropped by 20.47 million in the six-month period to 257 million due to cut-throat competition from emerging social networking apps and lack of innovation, the report said.
Story First Published: July 22, 2014 20:12 IST