According to VNU, Skype adoption is only at four percent in the UK, but the acceptance is expected to climb, especially as younger, more PC and Game centric teens grow up and want dual mode devices that lets them do more than what they can do on their current landlines and cellphones. I call this a market indicator.
When you do a mental mashup with another market indicator, the recently eMarketer reported stats (hat tip to Jonathan Greene) you see only bright and cheery days ahead for VoIP device software and hardware manufacturers and developers, especially in the area of device convergence.
I feel this way because the New York Times has gotten onto the bandwagon and that means the gatekeepers feel that WiFi Voice is something that is about to emerge. Already we know Earthlink plans a reported sub $100 WiFi phone to work on their planned networks in Philadelphia, Anaheim and they pray, San Francisco. The phone will also work in your home via WiFi access points and routers. This move, and the T-Mobile at home offering, BT's play in the UK, plus obvious efforts by the cable MSO's to be more deeply tied to consumers' overall communications efforts are determining factors.
On top of this, a report by TeleGeography's Stephan Beckert reveals that 2006 Q3 Subscriber and Revenues are trending upward. TeleGeography's newest data shows that "Voice-over-broadband subscribers reached 8.2 million in the 3rd quarter, up 18% from the 2nd quarter. By the end of this year, approximately 9 percent of US households will have IP-based telephone service." Obviously this means more than Vonage has business and that means the cable MSO's are really cutting into the landline replacement, or what I have labeled Voice 1.5 market. While Vonage has a reported 2.5 million subs, the four MSO's are basically now passed the VoIP pioneer and seeing continued growth quarter by quarter. What is also revealing is how little business is being grabbed by SunRocket, Packet8 or Lingo. Packet 8 had 169k and SunRocket 156k both ahead of Lingo which has less than 115k. Given how much all of these companies have spent on marketing the last two years vs. AT&T's CallVantage which has spent almost nothing and has a reported base equal to at least Lingo if not SunRocket.
I'm also recognizing that here in the USA we'll see AT&T and Sprint about to play in the Fixed Mobile Convergence Game, but on two different levels. Mobile (GSM & CDMA) via the cable operators and DSL partnerships as well as via WiMax and WiFi. The reason is simple. They have to because the pressure from Comcast, Towerstream and Clearwire are going to start being felt in 2008, if not sooner. Covad, is also already making moves in WiMax in five markets.
IP Convergence with Voice is about growth. Being in the picks and shovels business is where the initial action will be. Watch the Cisco's, Lucents, Nortels and Sonus' plus Motorola and some emerging new players like Sylantro and Broadsoft to began to leverage years of relationships to start to bring things more front and center. After that, then watch the carriers.