Got an interesting link on the mail today about some facts about Skype, Skype Journal posted some facts the other day

These number reveal that at most 2 percent of the Skype software downloads reflect users online, and that downloads reflect almost a 3x download of Skype per user. No account for the users that have multiple devices, like one for the Office, one at Home etc (and when did I want more numbers? This seems very Telco 1.0, I want fewer more intelligent numbers instead!)

With the 171 million users reported that means a max of five percent of the installed user base with accounts are using Skype at any one time. The key number that is missing is how many Skype users convert to some paid Skype service. That information remains a mystery so while eBay reports gross aggregated dollars generated from Skype they don’t provide the breakdown that shows where the trends are going:

  1. eBay has not been reported the number of paid Skype In numbers in service (I have three in various parts of the world) and after a year or more Skype still calls this a Beta service.
  2. No information is available yet from eBay on Skype Out minutes sold or consumed.
  3. What’s more is there hasn’t been any public commentary on what is called breakage, or the unconsumed minutes by users who bought SKype Out credit and just never used it.
  4. No stats are available of users who have purchased and used Skype Voice Mail.
  5. No stats are published about conversion to Skype Add-Ins, the adoption levels, use and how much money is being generated in around the Skype eco-system, etc.

When it comes to telling the numbers, Skype’s between a rock and a hard place.

Report these types of numbers and they present a compelling case to the more mainstream companies and users who have yet to see the value.

At the same time if they actually reveal the numbers in clear the operators might begin to see the Skype threat more clearly, which in turn may cause them to embrace the Skype alternatives that are based on SIP that would give them something to offer to keep their existing customer from leaving. Some of the operators are already starting to offer SIP based services (e.g. I can get a SIP trunk instead of PRI trunk form my company from some operators in Europe as well as SIP based VoIP for consumers).

There are some serious things to think about regarding the Skype phenomenon:

  • Skype uses proprietary protocols, it can not be connected to standard (SIP) devices, equipment and software.
  • Although an impressive user base, compare number of users to the number of phones in the world.
  • Compare the number of call minutes consumed over Skype compared to traditional Phones.
  • Also, what do Skype provide you with that your traditional Operator do not except cheaper calls? Cheaper calls is a fact, and they will continue to be cheaper (my girlfriend has a none Skype phone at her home with free national calls, except mobiles, for a fixed low monthly fee).

I think there are tremendous opportunities with Voice services carried over the Internet, just as we are seeing new types of online Web services coming to existence everyday because of the inherit open architecture of Internet technology, this will happen for Voice, but it won’t happen with a proprietary protocol!

Once the thinking on all fronts changes Telco 3.0 will be here, by then I hope to have started some interesting startups in the Voice 2.0 / Telco 3.0 or however we decided to hype the next wave of voice communication.

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