Verizon eyes Charter cable as mergers hit fever pitch

Virtual worlds, real development issues

If you had any question about whether Facebook was serious about VR, outside of , you know, their buying Oculus VR and so forth, well, wonder no longer, as they’ve brought Hugo Barra into the fold to head up their VR efforts. Who is Hugo Barra? He’s a former Google exec who jumped ship to Chinese tech firm Xiaomi, and then built Xiaomi into a smartphone powerhouse, with sales of a billion dollars – just in India alone.

In a Facebook post by the man himself, Zuck said that he and Barra both think VR is the next big tech thing, and Barra says his goal is to make VR mainstream. What will that take? Well, probably slimming down the nerdy headsets and making them wireless for one (or two), along with rapid software development, hardware development, market development and, hopefully, cutting the price… eventually. It’s a big job, but one it would seem Barra is cut out for.

Now trending: flushing out “fake news”

More Facebook news now, and this time it’s about “fake news,” that tender topic that was a focus during the last election. Facebook is giving it’s Trending Topics section on your page a makeover, with some new rules about what bubbles up to the top. No longer will topics be ranked by how many people are reading about them, they’ll instead be parsed by the numbers of publishers publishing about them.

Also, instead of just a word or hashtag for the topic, there will be a short headline, a quick blurb or a more, shall we say, curated descriptive word for the topic. Finally, Trending Topics will be regionalized instead of personalized, so everyone in your area sees the same list of topics, which may be a move to get people out of their news “bubbles” of repeated false information. Zuck has also made some key hires in the news department, hit this link for more details.

Big fish, and even bigger fish

Some more moves and rumors in the restless cable and internet\TV field now: The Wall Street Journal reports that Verizon may be looking at reeling in Charter, the nation’s second-largest cable provider.

Verizon is the nation’s largest cell phone provider, and if it could lock in Charter, that would give it a massive distribution network to work with as we sail into what is likely going to be a highly de-regulated and anti-neutrality world of internet access. What it will mean for consumers, ultimately, remains to be seen, but suffice to say the cable-internet chess board is going to remain busy for a while.