Skype Journal has some facts about Skype posted today.
Basically the stats reveal that at maximum slightly under 2 percent of the downloads reflect users online versus downloads, but the downloads reflect almost a 3x download of Skype per user. Nowhere in the math are the corrections for those of us who have multiple devices (I have at least 6) that can be connected to Skype nor does it take into consideration multiple account users per installed client (like in my office).
So 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 to me so while eBay reports gross aggregated dollars generated from Skype they don't provide the breakdown that shows where the trends are going:
1) No information from eBay has been reported about 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, consumed. 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.
3) No stats are available of users who have purchased and used Skype Voice Mail
4) 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 and uncertain terms then the telcos and the threat they pose becomes more apparent. That would then mean the carriers and mobile operators would begin to see the Skype threatloud and clear, 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.
I'm already hearing that the carriers feel that that day will come, but right now the loss to Skype is considered nothing more than a rounding error. That's because the real numbers of Skype users never were customers of the telcos, only potential future customers. Cable operators understand the homes passed, future customer model, which is something the telcos never had to worry about with telco think.
Once the thinking on all fronts changes Telco 3.0 will be here.