Financial
Facebook buying Oculus for $2B PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by BARBARA ORTUTAY, AP Technology Writers RYAN NAKASHIMA, AP Technology Writers   
Wednesday, 26 March 2014 06:22

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook is buying virtual reality company Oculus, betting $2 billion that its technology will become a new way for people to communicate, learn or be entertained.

"This is a long-term bet on the future of computing," said Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg Tuesday on a call with analysts. "I believe Oculus can be one of the platforms of the future."

Irvine, Calif.-based Oculus VR Inc. makes the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset that's received a lot of attention from video game developers, though it has yet to be released for consumers. The headsets cover a user's eyes and create an immersive world that reacts to turning one's head or moving back and forth.

Beyond games, Zuckerberg said virtual reality headsets might someday be used to enjoy a courtside seat at a basketball game, study in a classroom, consult with a doctor face-to-face or shop in a virtual store. The technology also has social applications, he said.

"Imagine sharing not just moments with friends online but entire experiences and adventures," he said.

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U.S. home prices dip in Jan. for third straight month PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER, AP Economics Writer   
Tuesday, 25 March 2014 10:21

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices dipped in January for the third straight month as cold weather, a limited supply of homes and higher mortgage rates lowered sales.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller 20-city home price index, released Tuesday, declined 0.1 percent from December to January, the same decline as the previous two months. The index is not adjusted for seasonal variations, so the dip partly reflects weaker sales in the winter.

The index rose a healthy 13.2 percent in January compared with 12 months earlier. But that is down from a 13.4 percent increase in 2013 and is the second straight month that the annual gain has slowed.

Still, most economists see the price moderation as a positive trend. Home prices jumped over the past two years partly because investors swooped in and bid up prices in places like Las Vegas, Phoenix and other cities in the south and west. Rapid price increases have likely kept some buyers on the sidelines.

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Revenue growth is slowing at Indian casinos PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by STEPHEN SINGER, AP Business Writer   
Wednesday, 26 March 2014 06:18

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Spending by gamblers slowed at U.S. Indian casinos in 2012, as revenue growth fell behind non-tribal casinos for the first time in nearly two decades, according to a report released Wednesday.

The weak economy also put a brake on tribal gambling revenue, although it hit an all-time high, said Casino City's Indian Gaming Industry Report.

Casino City, a publisher of gambling industry information, said racinos have outgrown Indian casino gambling in 16 of the 19 years in which race track casinos have operated. Revenue grew by 8 percent in 2012. But it's been 18 years since revenue at commercial casinos, which jumped 4 percent in 2012, had a higher annual growth rate than Indian casinos.

"That was definitely something different," said Alan Meister, author of the report.

The brighter comparison for commercial casinos is because more have opened — four voter-approved casinos have begun operation in Ohio, for example — and tribal casino markets are aging and locked in tough competition, he said.

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Google Glass to feature Ray-Ban, Oakley frames PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Associated Press   
Tuesday, 25 March 2014 06:29

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google is hoping to make its Internet-connected eyewear more stylish as part of a partnership with the makers of Ray-Ban and Oakley frames.

The alliance with Italian eyewear company Luxottica Group announced Monday represents Google's latest attempt to make wearable technology look less geeky as it tries to develop new ways to ensure people can stay connected to the Internet wherever they go. Last week, Google disclosed that fashion accessory maker Fossil Group is working on an Internet-connected wristwatch that runs Google's Android software for mobile devices.

Luxottica will develop frames equipped with Google Glass, a computing device that includes a thumbnail-sized screen above the wearer's right eye to view Internet content. The $1,500 gadget also includes a camera that can take hands-free pictures and video, a feature that has raised privacy concerns.

Google Inc. so far has only sold Glass to a select group of test subjects known as "Explorers," who have frequently been mocked for wearing a piece of futuristic eyewear that looks better-suited for cyborgs than for humans.

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