Dutch Carrier KPN Sees SMS Revenues Decline, Considers Charging For App Usage?

Yesterday KPN, a leading carrier in The Netherlands, published its 2010 fourth quarter results. One of the widely discussed results was a decline in SMS revenues of 10% within one year. This decrease was caused by “changing consumer behavior, where mobile apps provide a data based alternative to the regular voice and SMS services”.

Source: Emerce

Apps like WhatsApp, Skype and eBuddy are extremely popular and were one of the top 10 apps during 2010 on multiple platforms, see our December 2010 publication. It should not be a surprise that these kinds of services are increasingly replacing traditional SMS communication in countries with high smartphone penetration.

What is surprising though, is KPN’s consideration on how to cope with this declining SMS revenue. The company says it will introduce new subscriptions that focus on mobile data and are intended to compensate the decrease in SMS and voice revenues (source: Emerce, Dutch). As journalists were asking for more details on this, the company’s CEO highlighted that it is considering letting customers pay an extra fee for unlimited use of instant messaging and VOIP apps like Skype (source: Tweakers, Dutch). This would be a very odd move, where a carrier will charge consumers for the usage of apps that are not provided by the carrier itself, but already purchased by a consumer from one of the app stores.

Vincent Hoogsteder