We’ve been hearing about the post-PC revolution since the original iPad came into full view two and a half years ago. It immediately killed off the netbook and sales have been rising steadily ever since. But what about the notebook? It’s still the most popular mobile PC. The question is, for how long?

According to a new survey, in a little over three years from now more people will be buying tablets as their primary mobile PC than notebooks. So much about the iPad not being suitable for content creation

Research firm NPD is out with a new research note today spelling doom for notebooks in light of the rising popularity of tablets – that is, Apple’s iPad.

While notebook PC shipments are expected to increase from 208M units in 2012 to 393M units by 2017, tablet PC shipments are expected to grow from 121M units to 416M units in this period, for a compound annual growth rate of 28%.

So why did I put ‘the iPad’ in the headline and not ‘the tablet’?

Because tablet market continues to be the iPad market. Apple sold more than 70 million iPads thus far and if this trend doesn’t reverse itself by 2016, it’s fairly safe to assume it’ll still dominate the market, even if its unit share drops below 50 percent.

So, why does NPD think people will be picking up “tablets” in droves by 2016?

A key driver for tablet PC growth is adoption in mature markets (including North America, Japan and Western Europe), which will account for 66% of shipments in 2012 and remain in the 60% range throughout the forecast period. Tablet PC shipments into mature markets will grow from 80M units in 2012 to 254M units by 2017.

Also of note, Ryan Kim writing for GigaOM yesterday reported that tablets are now bringing in more traffic to major shopping sites than smartphones.

Monetate, which analyzes more than 100 million online shopping experiences, said that in the first quarter of 2012, tablet traffic to commerce sites hit 6.52 percent, overtaking smartphones (5.35 percent) for the first time. In the last year, tablets’ traffic increased 348 percent while smartphones visits grew by 117 percent over the same period.

Tablets you say?

Almost all of the traffic (95 percent) was from the iPad, said Monetate.

By the way, John Gruber has an opinion about this particular line.

Looks like Steve Jobs was right.

When challenged by technology columnists Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher in 2010 that one couldn’t use the iPad for serious work over lack of decent content creation apps, he simply replied that “time takes care of a lot of these things”.

Here we are, two years later, and the iPad has an insane Retina display, a much beefier hardware and a bunch of apps to compose music, edit photographs and office documents, create websites and lots more.

What a difference two years make.

Now imagine what the iPad will be capable of by 2016.

Thoughts?