I’m doing a little work preparing for our Stanford class — I’m planning to talk next week a little bit about Mozilla and how we grew — so I’m looking back through board decks from 2006 & 2007.

Kind of amazing to look back through them. Among other things, there was no mobile to speak of. Apple was mostly irrelevant — unless you wanted to listen to music on your iPod. Gmail & YouTube were still pretty new. Facebook was growing, but still early days. Twitter brand new. And if you wanted to go somewhere, you often rented a car. From Hertz.

Anyway, what caught my eye this morning was a slide with Firefox’s daily user growth month to month:

This was all still pretty new — before January 2006 we didn’t have great systems for even telling how many users there were worldwide.

For us, in that time period, the ratio of monthly to daily users was about 3:1 — so by March 2007, we had maybe 90M users give or take.

[Interesting to note that that ratio wasn’t something we started out thinking about — this was a time we kind of had to find our own way to understand that that was an important ratio.]

Anyway, you can see that through that period, we were experiencing strong growth, and for a product that wasn’t viral. More tellingly, since this was at a time before the iPhone and real smartphone adoption, we were getting very robust daily usage and growth — in a way that’s qualitatively different than today’s mobile usage, which tends to be more often & more intimate.

But what really caught my eye was a note on the slide that said this:

Comscore estimates 741M Internet users worldwide in 12/07.

Now, you can find other estimates at the time that are closer to a billion, but still, that’s an amazing change. From 750M laptop/desktop Internet users 8 years ago to 2.6B smartphone subscriptions today, with some people expecting 6.1B by 2020, just 5 years from now.

It’s dizzying, how quickly computing and technology went from ~10% of the world using it for work (and leisure, although we know much less on the weekends) to 1/3 of the world walking around with the Internet in their pockets, connected all the time, everywhere.

Having lived through it day-to-day, it’s easy to miss the changes — small increments, smooth(ish) change.

But wowowow. Quantitatively and qualitatively — it’s just a profoundly different world we are living in now than even 8 years ago.

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