Pity the poor desktop PC. Once upon a time, a very long time ago, it was considered the most cutting-edge thing around. It was popular; everyone wanted one, and so the desktop PC watched as its number of units shipped steadily grew.
But then the notebook PC arrived on the commerical scene in the mid-90s, really taking off in the early to mid-2000s. In terms of global units shipped, the notebook PC was growing at a faster clip than the desktop PC ever did, and in 2009, it surpassed it's clunky, sputtering rival.
That's nothing compared to the tablet's trajectory. First introduced to the commercial public in 2009, it has absolutely exploded onto the scene (desktop PC quartly shipments were already falling, and since the tablet's arrival, notebook quartly shipments have declined as well).
The graph below puts it all in digestible terms. It comes from the latest annual Internet Trends report released today by Mary Meeker, legendary Wall Street analyst and partner at venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers.
Despite this exponential growth, tablets have a long way to go in terms of global population penetration. Right now, there are 439 million tablet users, or about 6 percent of the population. If you compare that number with the population penetration of desktop PCs (10 percent), smartphones (22 percent) and TVs (78 percent) and consider the tablet's explosive trajectory, the situation is clear: rapid growth in units shipped + a relatively low population penetration = "loads of growth ahead."
For more of Meeker's Internet Trends of 2014 -- encompassing everything from cybersecurity to education -- check out the full presentation below.