WhatsApp! Free message apps give telecom firms a run for their money

Updated 12 October 2012
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WhatsApp! Free message apps give telecom firms a run for their money

SINGAPORE: Global telecom operators are expected to have lost $ 23 billion in SMS revenues by the end of 2012 as smartphone users shift to free messaging applications, an industry report said yesterday.
Technology research company Ovum forecast the losses would more than double to $ 54 billion by 2016 as the traditional Short Messaging Service (SMS) gives way to Internet-based platforms such as WhatsApp.
This compares with estimated losses of $ 8.7 billion in 2010 and $13.9 billion in 2011.
“Social messaging is becoming more pervasive and operators are coming under increased pressure to drive revenues from the messaging component of their communications business,” said Neha Dharia, consumer telecoms analyst at Ovum.
“Operators need to understand the impact of social messaging apps on consumer behavior, both in terms of changing communication patterns and the impact on SMS revenue, and offer services to suit.”
Ovum cited the increasing popularity of WhatsApp, which allows smartphone owners to exchange messages for free using wireless Internet links, bypassing SMS gateways that charge users per message or for a monthly quota.
“Ovum believes this level of growth will continue as smartphone and mobile broadband penetration increases and expects smaller players such as ‘textPlus’, ‘Pinterest’ and ‘fring’ to cause further disruption in the messaging space,” the report said.
Urging telecom operators to innovate, Ovum said the increase in the number of players offering social messaging services is not a short-term trend but a sign of a “shift in communication patterns.”
Text messaging started as a way to use spare telecoms capacity but became a key cash generator for operators while offering users a cheap way to keep in touch with friends and family without having to spend on phone calls.
Dharia told AFP on Thursday that SMS contributed 49 percent of non-voice revenues for telecom companies globally last year, but is expected to fall to 45 percent this year and to 35 percent by 2016.


Japan to trial ‘world’s first urine test’ to spot cancer

Updated 17 April 2018
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Japan to trial ‘world’s first urine test’ to spot cancer

  • Previous research has shown a new blood test has potential to detect eight different kinds of tumors before they spread
  • The research starts in April and will run until September

TOKYO: A Japanese firm is poised to carry out what it hailed as the world’s first experiment to test for cancer using urine samples, which would greatly facilitate screening for the deadly disease.
Engineering and IT conglomerate Hitachi developed the basic technology to detect breast or colon cancer from urine samples two years ago.
It will now begin testing the method using some 250 urine samples, to see if samples at room temperature are suitable for analysis, Hitachi spokesman Chiharu Odaira told AFP.
“If this method is put to practical use, it will be a lot easier for people to get a cancer test, as there will be no need to go to a medical organization for a blood test,” he said.
It is also intended to be used to detect paediatric cancers.
“That will be especially beneficial in testing for small children” who are often afraid of needles, added Odaira.
Research published earlier this year demonstrated that a new blood test has shown promise toward detecting eight different kinds of tumors before they spread elsewhere in the body.
Usual diagnostic methods for breast cancer consist of a mammogram followed by a biopsy if a risk is detected.
For colon cancer, screening is generally conducted via a stool test and a colonoscopy for patients at high risk.
The Hitachi technology centers around detecting waste materials inside urine samples that act as a “biomarker” — a naturally occurring substance by which a particular disease can be identified, the company said in a statement.
The procedure aims to improve the early detection of cancer, saving lives and reducing the medical and social cost to the country, Odaira explained.
The experiment will start this month until through September in cooperation with Nagoya University in central Japan.
“We aim to put the technology in use in the 2020s, although this depends on various things such as getting approval from the authorities,” Odaira said.