Lionel Messi’s Copa America campaign finished just over 45 minutes early on Saturday after the Argentina captain was sent off along with Chile’s Gary Medel in the third-place play-off.Messi and Argentina came flying out of the blocks in Arena Corinthians, after tasting elimination in controversial circumstances at the hands of Brazil on Tuesday. After just 12 minutes the Albiceleste went ahead, Sergio Aguero converting past Gabriel Arias in the Chile net after latching on to a brilliant quickly taken free-kick from the Barcelona wizard. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare Injury to Alexis Sanchez and a goal for Paulo Dybala compounded the Roja’s woes, finding themselves 2-0 behind after barely 20 minutes. But both teams were soon to be reduced to 10 men as tensions in Sao Paulo boiled over. A seemingly innocuous scuffle between Messi and notoriously bad-tempered Chile hardman ‘Pitbull’ Medel quickly escalated into a full-on brawl towards the end of the first half. And while Leo certainly helped provoke his opponent by pushing and harrying him past his own goal-line, the Argentina captain was largely motionless when Medel came back throwing his shoulders and forehead repeatedly into his adversary’s person. Referee Mario Diaz, however, deemed both parties equally responsible for the clash, lifting his red card twice and sparking more protests that involved almost every player on the pitch. There was momentary doubt over whether Messi’s punishment would be downgraded to a yellow upon review by VAR; the decision stood, however, and the captain let slip a wry laugh as he vacated the pitch.Messi’s expulsion will only further heighten Argentine suspicions that they have been given a raw deal by officials at this Copa America. In the Brazil clash the Albiceleste were left incensed after referee Roddy Zambrano declined to consult with VAR over two strong penalty appeals, one of which led directly to Roberto Firmino’s goal to put the hosts 2-0 up. The Argentine FA subsequently filed an official complaint over the standard of refereeing, while coach Lionel Scaloni complained his team had played against “eight men in black” as well as the Brazil team and partisan home crowd.
Apple Inc.’s Chinese smartphone shipments plummeted an estimated 20 per cent in 2018’s final quarter, underscoring the scale of the iPhone maker’s retreat in the world’s largest mobile device arena against local rivals like Huawei Technologies Co.The domestic market contracted 9.7 per cent in the quarter, but Apple declined at about twice that pace, research firm IDC said in a report on Monday. A slowing economy, lengthening replacement times and the iPhone’s hefty price tag contributed to the U.S. giant’s decline, it said. Xiaomi Corp. fared even worse in the final months of last year, when shipments plunged almost 35 per cent, the consultancy estimates.Smartphone labels from Apple to Samsung Electronics Co. are contending with a plateauing global market after years of breakneck growth, as a lack of innovation discourages consumers from replacing devices as often as they used to. Apple also has to cope with the rise of Huawei, which is eroding its share of a market once pivotal to driving its growth. The country’s top electronics retailers slashed prices on the latest iPhones by as much as 20 per cent in past months — an unusual move that illustrated waning enthusiasm for Apple’s gadgets. Apple fixes FaceTime privacy bug, will issue update next week Apple revokes Facebook’s app development credentials after latest data tracking revelations Apple mulls change from failed U.S. pricing on international iPhones to boost sales “Apple doesn’t have a good go-to market strategy that fits the rapidly changing Chinese market,” said Nicole Peng, a senior director at Canalys. “It also seemed to be slow in reacting to China’s economic slowdown and changes in consumption structure.”Dissipating Chinese demand compounds the problems at Apple, which is struggling to deliver on another hit device as its marquee gadget loses some of its cachet. Revenue from the iPhone slid 15 per cent in the October to December period. To compensate for the loss, Apple is trying to replace phone sales with revenue from services.Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has seen China as a key part of Apple’s strategy: last fiscal year the company generated almost US$52 billion in revenue from Greater China, a region that includes Hong Kong. But with the country announcing its slowest economic growth since 2009, Apple said its sales fell 27 per cent in the holiday quarter. The Chinese slowdown was the driving factor behind Apple’s first revenue outlook cut in almost two decades. Cook however emphasized the long haul, highlighting 19 per cent growth in services revenue.“When smartphones became a commodity for Chinese customers, multinationals need to adjust their overall sales and marketing strategies,” Peng said. “Apple didn’t seem to change its Chinese marketing plans.”Huawei, which briefly surpassed Apple to become the world’s No. 2 smartphone brand in 2018, remains the runaway leader at home. It shored up its lead after unit shipments soared 23.3 per cent in the December quarter, leading all major brands, according to IDC. That’s despite grappling with an unusually turbulent few months during which its finance chief was arrested on allegations of bank fraud, and the U.S. marshalled its allies to try and block the company from selling next-generation networking gear.Apple was ranked fourth by shipments in the country during the period, trailing China’s Oppo and Vivo, IDC said. Fifth-ranked Xiaomi, a Chinese name that experienced rapid growth just before its 2018 initial public offering, ran afoul of inventory corrections and an internal restructuring, IDC said.The industry is now counting on innovations such as foldable screens, 3D cameras and 5G-ready phones to revitalize the market. The argument is that consumers will get hooked once they experience first-hand phones with data speeds more than 10 times faster than today’s devices.Lei Jun, Xiaomi’s billionaire co-founder, is among those who expect the advent of 5G to energize demand. But IDC argues blazing-fast phones won’t become the standard until 2020, because the rollout of 5G networks is just getting underway.“The domestic smartphone market environment in 2019 doesn’t look very optimistic,” IDC senior analyst Wang Xi said in the report. And “5G phones will still only comprise a very small portion of the overall market. We’ve a long way to go before they become mainstream,” IDC said.Bloomberg.com