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21/10/2010

Zanetti breaks goal scoring record as Inter edge Spurs

MILAN, Italy (AFP) – Inter Milan captain Javier Zanetti became the oldest ever Champions League scorer as the reigning champions edged out 10-man Tottenham 4-3 in a thriller at the San Siro on Wednesday.

This really was a tale of two halves as Inter romped to a 4-0 lead before the break while Gareth Bale scored a stunning second half hat-trick.

Samuel Eto'o notched a brace and Dejan Stankovic added the fourth, all before half-time, before Bale's brilliant solo cameo while Spurs goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes was dismissed after just eight minutes.

Inter now lead Group A by three points from Harry Redknapp's team ahead of the pair's meeting at White Hart Lane in two weeks' time.

Bale expressed his disappointment at Spurs' first half showing but said they would learn from their mistakes.

"We were sloppy in the first half, we're not really sure what happened," he said.

"There wasn't too much to think about with the goals, we just wanted to get back into the game.

"There are a lot of positives to take from the second half, we kept the ball well. But we're massively disappointed to have lost the game."

Redknapp said he was relieved that his side didn't suffer a thrashing.

"I was massively disappointed, I feel we started the game sloppily, we didn't start as I wanted," he said.

"Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, it was disastrous. At half-time I said to the players that all you've got to play for is pride, you've got to make sure you don't come off being embarrassed with a crazy score.

"We did better in the second half, we continued to work them, we threatened when we got the ball wide.

"(Aaron) Lennon was a threat and Bale was, I thought we were quite bold.

"We could have taken a wide player off. We didn't get the reward in terms of points but we did in terms of pride."

Inter coach Rafael Benitez hit out at his team for their second half showing.

"In the first half we played very well but in the second we were a little bit too relaxed, we made too many mistakes, they played well on the counter but we played for them," he said.

"We knew before that (Bale) is a good player and we know that now. He played very well but we gave them too much space, we made too many mistakes."

This was the day, though, when Spurs' Champions League education truly began as they paid for every mistake they made in a disastrous first 45 minutes.

The game was over within a quarter of an hour as Spurs trailed 3-0 and were down to 10-men.

The English team had a nightmare start in only the second minute as Alan Hutton was dragged inside by Coutinho who passed to Eto'o to slide Zanetti into the space vacated by Hutton, the Inter captain curling home with aplomb.

And eight minutes in, Spurs's task became near-impossible as Benoit Assou-Ekotto was caught napping, allowing Jonathan Biabiany to run behind him onto Wesley Sneijder's pass.

Gomes came out to close down the Frenchman but clattered into him as he chipped the Brazilian.

Assou-Ekotto had by now got back into a defensive position and while the award of a penalty was unquestionable, the red card for Gomes seemed an unnecessarily harsh double-blow.

Redknapp brought off his playmaker Luca Modric to bring on reserve goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini and the Italian's first task was to pick Eto'o's successful spot-kick out of his net on 11 minutes.

Spurs were in complete disarray and they conceded again on 14 minutes as their defence fell apart with Dejan Stankovic shooting home from the edge of the area following good work from Maicon and Eto'o.

The visitors managed to regroup and even mounted an atck but Peter Crouch should have done better with Aaron Lennon's dink to the back post instead of getting underneath it.

Spurs' problem was in defence and Coutinho slipped in Eto'o on 35 minutes between the ball-watching centre-backs William Gallas and Sebastian Bassong and although Cudicini got a touch on his prod, it still found the net.

Cudicini finally made a save, even a double save, at his near post, both times from Maicon, near the end of a totally one-sided half.

Redknapp must have said something to motivate his team at half time because Bale scored the goal of the night seven minutes after the restart.

The Welsh flyer picked up the ball fully 70 yards from goal, burst between Maicon and Zanetti, ran all the way to the box and then cracked a left-foot shot across Julio Cesar and inside the far post.

And he scored two more goals from identical positions in a frantic and bizarre finish.

In the last minute he picked up the ball 40 yards from goal, drove into the box and shot across Cesar before being teed up from 15 yards to drill home another sumptuous left-foot strike in injury time.

19/10/2010

Job touts Apple TV sales figures

Apple's efforts to revamp its Apple TV product line could be paying off. The company says its sold more than 250,000 units since unveiling a new version of the device last month.

Those numbers come directly from Steve Jobs, who made a rare appearance during , when one analyst asked Apple's CEO to comment on customer response to the new Apple TV:

I can report that in just a short amount of time, we've already sold over 250,000, and we're thrilled with that. I think it's a great product, and its $99 price point is very enticing. And I think when we get AirPlay in place it'll give people another reason to buy it.

A quarter of a million Apple TVs is impressive in its own right, but the most interesting aspect of the number is that Apple gave it out at all. From the very beginning of the product's life in 2007, Apple hasunder its numbers for "Related Products and Services," and as such has never shared the number of Apple TVs sold in a quarter-or during any time period, for that matter.

Back in January 2009, on another earnings call, Apple COO Tim Cook said that , citing the addition of movie rentals to the iTunes Store, but didn't give people any idea of what the actual sales were.

Similarly, at a Goldman Sachs technology conference in February 2010, Cook said , but again gave no hint as to specific unit sales.

Now, it's not clear what the exact time period Jobs was referring to was (pre-orders beginning September 1 until the end of the quarter? Until Monday's call?) or if all those units have been shipped or if some are backorders waiting to be filled. But what is clear is that if Steve Jobs is finally comfortable throwing out a sales number for the Apple TV, Apple is confident that the product's status as a 'hobby' may be coming to an end.

Fox-Cablevision Spat Highlights a TV Biz in Transition

Last weekend, I brought my Cablevision set-top box back to the store and told them I was cancelling my service. The clerk accepted it without question and handed me a receipt. Never mind that Cablevision's current showdown with Fox Television meant I couldn't watch the Giants game, House, or the 10 O'clock news with Ernie Anastos. Why would the company watch a customer guaranteed to spend more than $100/month walk away without a single question? Because in Hoboken, like most towns, the cable company has a monopoly. It's a lot easier to offer your customers blacked-out channels when there's no competition for them to turn to.But this won't be the case forever, and both Fox and Cablevision need to get with the program if they want to stay in business.

Cancelling my Cablevision service actually had nothing to do with the Fox dispute. I moved one mile away to Jersey City, where the monopoly cable provider is Comcast. The technician came today in the traditional, productivity-destroying window—between 9am-11am—and installed a new cable box and modem. Now Comcast will get my $100-plus monthly fees. Stupidly, I asked the technician if he has seen any new business because of the Fox-Cablevision brouhaha. "Not really, we don't offer service in Hoboken," he said. Of course not, because there is no such thing as consumer choice in cable providers.

Dish Networks might see some pick up, he suggested. The satellite provider offers a valid alternative for a lot of residence. But you need to have a clear line to one of company's satellites, and not all buildings do. And not all renters can get permission to install the dishes, either. When it comes to Cable, Cablevision owns the town. That means Comcast, Time Warner, RCN or any other provider is locked out.

This isn't the first time Cablevision has gone head to head with a content provider over fees, or the first time that its customers got caught in the cross fire. Earlier this year, the FoodNetwork and HGTV were cut from the provider's lineup. As a fan of Good Eats, I was greatly distressed by this. The channel came back after a few weeks, but in the interim I had no options. On those channels, Cablevision ran a series of ads vilifying the FoodNetwork for raising fees. It is doing the same thing with Fox right now. I guess this is a luxury you can afford when you own the pipe.

Dust-ups like this are going to be a lot more common in the future. Indeed, Dish Networks is due to renegotiate with Fox in just a few weeks. This same story could well play out again, in the satellite arena. Keep in mind, the World Series will be broadcast on Fox exclusively. If the Yankees win the ALCS, there are millions of people who will want to watch it live. If Texas wins the ALCS, well, there is always preseason intermural curling. (Go Yankees!)

What happens then? Where will all those baseball fans go? They will head online for illegal streams and downloads of video content. Content providers will try to bypass the cable companies by licensing their content to YouTube and Apple TV. The new Google TV platform lets you search through online videos just as easily as those available in your official Programming Guide—and they don't get blacked out when News Corp wants more money. This is the future that both the cable companies and content providers fear most and yet spats like these are exactly what is bringing it on.

Don't mistake my annoyance with cable monopolies as me siding with Fox in this affair. Fox is reportedly asking for $150 annually, a steep leap from the $70 million Cablevision now pays to carry the channel. And it was, after all, Fox's decision to cut off viewers when its current contract expired. My problem is the fact that while Fox and Cablevision are playing this game—it is the consumer that loses. And there isn't anything we can do about it.

Except move to Jersey City and trade one monopolist for another.