China's microblog users reach 250 mln

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China had nearly 250 million microbloggers last year, four times as many as in 2010 as more web users began to use the service to send short postings of news and views, according to an industry report.

Sina Weibo is one of the most popular microblog platforms in China.

China had 513 million Internet users by the end of last year, the China Internet Network Information Center report revealed yesterday.

Major web portals, including Sina and Tencent, have all launched microblogging services, or "weibo."

China's Internet penetration, the proportion of web users compared to the overall population, rose 4 percentage points to 38.3 percent by the end of December, lower than the average growth of 6 percent since 2007, the report said.

The number of web visitors using mobile phones added 17 percent to 356 million.

Last year saw a marked decline in the number of daily deals websites but transaction volume surged six times to 11 billion yuan (US$1.7 billion), according to a report by Tuan800, which tracks such sites and the deals they offer in China.

The number of people using group-buying sites more than tripled to 64.7 million as of December from a year ago.

Online shopping boomed in 2011 with retailers such as Taobao Marketplace, and attracting 194 million users. In November, Boston Consulting Group said China was the world's second largest online shopping market, after the US, and would become the biggest one by 2015 with a market value of 2 trillion yuan.

The rapid growth of China's Internet population, already the largest of any country, has spurred expansion in the Internet economy. The market value of China's Internet industry grew to 260 billion yuan and the figure is estimated to grow beyond 1 trillion yuan by 2015, according to a separate report by Internet consultancy iResearch Inc.

New services and technologies are also taking off, with cloud computing expected to generate more than 60 billion yuan this year, the Internet Society of China said last week.

China has targeted up to 2 trillion yuan in telecommunications infrastructure investment during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) period, with cloud computing a key project.

The top three most used web services in China are instant messaging, search engines and online music streaming.

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