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Local News Summary of January, 27th

  • Federer reached the finals of Australian Open
  • «Uberisation» of Basler taxis
  • Haemophilia drug made by Roche to be authorised by EU

Federer reached the finals of Australian Open

Roger Federer reached the finals of Australian Open after a short semi-finals after the young South-Korean Hyeon Chung gave up because of injury when the score was 6:1 and 5:2.

The match between the 19-time grand slam-champion and the newcomer, who is 14 years and 284 days younger, was expected to bring much excitement. However, it did fulfill the expectations of the 15'000 spectators at the Rod Laver Arena with its closed roof (due to the rain). A blister on his feet stopped the South-Korean, who was the first ever in grand-slam-history to reach the semi-finals.

«Roger, give him a chance», called a spectator when Federer won several points in a row with his service at the start of the second set. But the Swiss player did not take pity on his opponent in his first match against the South Korean, who had written one of the big stories in Melbourne Park after beating Alexander Zverev and his idol Novak Djokovic.

Federer proved to the newcomer that for him the sky is not the limit. In the very first game he broke Chung; three further breaks followed. Although the challenger had the chance of a re-break, Federer defended the only break ball against him after a fault by his opponent.

The first two games took twelve minutes, then Federer ramped up the speed. After 33 minutes he won the first set, half an hour later and shortly before losing the second set Chung gave up due to a blister on his feet. The South-Korean had already tried medical assistance. It didn't help, however, and the situation was pointless for Chung against Federer's strength.

In the finals on Sunday Federer will play Marin Cilic (ATP 6). The Croatian had beaten the second surprising player of the tournament, Kyle Edmund, on Thursday in three sets.

A little irony: Cilic had to struggle with blisters in the Wimbledon final against Federer last year. The Croatian did not give up but lost in three sets without any chance of winning.

«Uberisation» of Basler taxis

Uber must end their UberPop service in Basel in June. This sounds more dramatic than it is. Hardly anything will change for passengers: the normal Uber service will remain in place. Taxi companies are still preparing to take back their lost territories and try to copy their rival with a new app in order to win back customers.

Uber, a Californian company, quickly conquered the world and distorted the market with an almost infinite enthusiasm, generous starting capital (Google invested 258 million dollars), a perfectly designed app, unbeatable prices, and an endless supply of vehicles which the drivers brought themselves.

The aggressive strategies of the start-up made the taxi companies sweat and the established companies panicked. When Uber appeared in London in 2012 after being successful in Paris, the discontent led to several protests two years later, and «cabbies» blocked important roads which caused a deadlock in the rush-hour. Because the underground was packed and there were no taxis, commuters could only do one thing: Order an Uber driver. Overnight the start-up was the talk of the town. A short while later, the service made its appearance in Basel and showed no mercy to the taxi companies.

The days of plenty are numbered. Not for Uber

Uber kicked the shins of local companies and reopened old sores among customers since the local taxis had nothing to offer compared to newcomer. Here too taxi drivers protested - not without good reason. Now, years later, they have caught the eye of the authorities. Uber had disregarded the law systematically for too long a time, so UberPop was put in its place. It was clear that this would happen. It wasn't clear however whether the taxi companies would also learn their lesson. The needs of customers, which were disregarded by taxi companies for years, have not disappeared. On the contrary. And even after the dumping prices of UberPop ended, UberX will still be on offer in Basel.

Backlog demand recognised

As it can be seen, the taxi companies have got the message. It is hardly to believe, but the Basler taxi companies Mini-Cab, Taxizentrale, and 33er Taxi joined the Swiss Taxi Association in September last year to team up against the overpowering enemy. The app they developed, called «go!», is similar to the one on offer by Uber. So far the app can be used in Basel and Zurich, and further partners are wanted – and have been found.

Felix Mayer, manager of 33er Taxis, said: «We are actually reacting on the pressure. The idea of the go!-app is to close the ranks in Switzerland.» The association is a clear declaration of war. The app also enables moderate fixed costs by automating the mediation process. Ratings will also be possible. Taxis try to defeat the enemy with his own methods. Mr Mayer does not want to assert however that Uber had woken up the taxi companies: «Uber has destroyed more than many think.» Nethertheless, any real change by the fossilised taxi industry only occurred after the invasion of the Americans.

Woken from their fear

It is questionable whether there is a need at all for a service like Uber if the taxi companies are taking action. Although taxi-drivers say that customers only follow the price, there is more going on with Uber. The age of digitally mediated services demands better offers which taxi companies simply did not want to offer. When everybody offers the same bad service for excessive prices – why bother to improve? Without the invasive predator which doesn't care about rules the lethargic taxi industry may never have woken up. Sad but true: the taxis deserved this crisis and it's recommended that they «uberise» themselves a little bit. The app is the first step. Most people are ready to pay a bit more for the local service, if the service is good enough.

The plague is not over yet. Mr Mayer is not convinced that the end of UberPop will solve all the problems: «I estimate that there will be no big change before the Federal court defines the legal framework for UberX.» He is convinced that UberX is also only slightly less illegal, and the questions about the work relation between company and drivers remain. But Mr Mayer has registered that Uber was banned in a quick process in Germany and that the auxiliary service UberTaxi has hardly a chance against «real» taxi companies. Therefore he sees a light at the end of the tunnel despite UberX: «The future is brighter than it was. We are ready.» The really decisive battle has just started.

Haemophilia drug made by Roche to be authorised by EU

Pharmaceutical company Roche has made a big step forward in getting its haemophilia drug Hemlibra onto the market. The Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) has on Friday recommended its authorisation.

The drug would help patients who suffer from a special form of the haemophilia in which standard methods are not effective. Usually the EU-commission follows the recommendation of the committee.

With the help of Hemlibra and a series of other drugs, Roche hopes to equal out the losses that patients suffer when the most important drugs (Rituxan, Avastin, and Herceptin) lose their patent protection. Some analysts estimate a turnover of up to four billion dollars per year for Hemlibra. The drug has already been authorised in the USA.

Haemophilia is a disorder that impairs the body’s ability to make blood clots, a process needed to stop bleeding.