BEIJING: The number of Chinese consumers using Weibo, the domestic Twitter-style microblog, fell 9.2% in 2013 compared to the year before, official data has revealed, although overall internet usage continued to grow.

According to the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), the number of microblog users fell to 280.8m in 2013 from 308.6m in 2012, which CNNIC attributed to growing competition from instant messaging applications, such as Tencent's WeChat.

As reported by Bloomberg, the fall in microblog usage marked the first decline in the platform since 2010 and is an indication that users are switching to social media platforms used on smartphones.

However, it is suggested that a government crackdown on microblogs deemed to be defamatory also played its part and the state censorship campaign, launched last September, probably accounts for some of the reduction in Weibo users.

More positively, the data showed China ended last year with 618m internet users, up from 564m in 2012, while the number of mobile internet users increased by 19% to 500m.

Furthermore, noted that out of the number of new Internet users in China, the proportion of those who came online via mobile reached 73.3%, prompting CNNIC to describe mobile as the "main driving force for the growth of internet users in China".

In other developments logged by CNNIC, more people are watching online video on their mobile devices – 247m did so in 2013, an increase of 83.8% from the 112m people in 2012, while the usage rate increased to 69.3% from 65.9%.

And as more mobile platforms offer payment services, the number of users using internet transactions rose to 260m in 2013, up by 39.5m, while the usage rate grew an impressive 42%.

Data sourced from Bloomberg,; additional content by Warc staff