There are increasingly less CW operators on the air. I have been watching the bands and calling CQ for quite some time in a day. RBN shows the band is still open to NA etc. But desperately few are enjoying ordinary QSOs. If I could hear anything from abroad, they are always bees gathering in pile ups. That is better than nothing. I still feel the situation is getting worse than the past 2 or 3 years.
It is still the definite trend that the number of real CW lovers are decreasing in number. We have much easier ways of communications than CW, which requires us much training before we could converse on it.
Admitting this trend mentioned above, there is still such a drastic drop of numbers! Strangely, however, there are often discussions in the SNS etc as for which application is good to learn CW. Nowadays, most newbies are coming in this mode with such applications. There must be some handy as well as effective applications for them.
On the other hand, most beginners won't start with SWL. They might think they would learn CW at first, and they could understand perfectly what is going on the CW bands. They will be often heartbroken in real QSOs because they know the skill and knowledge of CW operation learned from such applications are least usable. Or they may stay being so called hit and run operators. Those hit and runs need to copy only figures and alphabets. They won't care for any other informatins than the report and the QTH/name.
Why won't they listen to the real QSOs going on? As told above, it is rather difficult for us to find them. But in certain area like in the US, it might be possible for them to listen to old timers enjoying ragchewing. Of course, they won't be able to copy all at first. In the very beginning, they could copy only a part of their call signs. It is a frustration not to be able to read what they say. Trying to copy the old timers on the air, the beginners could begin reading the mail all of sudden at one time. It comes like a step wise development for him/her. Before he/she could get such proficiency, he/she might be thrilled to copy some parts of the messages the old timers are sending. There is an operator, living like him/herself and having own emotion in life. Isn't it touching? The newcomers could learn how to operate on cW while listening those QSOs as well. I am sure SWLing is much more fun than doing with an application which sounds monotonous and material. There is much broader horizen in CW communication.