To set the stage: mobile Internet devices will outsell laptops and desktop computers by 2012, and by 2014, more people will be accessing the Internet through mobile devices than through fixed Internet sources.
So, you ask, “Which tools should I be investing my time, energy and money in?” Let’s look at where the majority of consumers are and where companies are asking the “app” developers to focus their time, energy and money.
I want to preface this by stating that I am a very proud Canadian. Watching “Sid the Kid“ pop the winning goal behind USA’s Ryan Miller in the Olympic Gold Medal hockey game was one of the sweetest moments in Canadian history. That being said, we need to realise that RIM (BlackBerry) is not going to outlast or outdevelop Google and/or Apple. They have been giving chase for several years and are not doing a very good job of catching up. Kind of a Wile E. Coyote situation, only now it looks like RIM is chasing two Roadrunners.
The Storm was more of a mild rain shower and it was rushed out before any of the bugs were fixed. And the BlackBerry Torch is now officially AT&T’s most returned phone of ALL TIME. I am really eager to see the RIM Playbook, but I am nervous that they will miss the mark again.
I love my BlackBerry Bold 9700 for typing emails, contact management and instant messaging my friends, but it really is a slug when it comes to using any of the apps. I don’t see getting rid of it in the foreseeable future, but I certainly don’t see RIM playing a large role in the future of Mobile Devices for real estate beyond being a good tool for emailing.
Over a year ago I added an iPhone to my pocket and that opened up a world of app bliss. About six months ago I added an iPad to the briefcase and it quickly reduced my iPhone to a basic cellphone with a couple of neat tools.
The iPad has created a new class of computing. It isn’t a laptop and it isn’t a smartphone. The machine feels great in your hands, the interface is natural to work with, the apps are incredible and the web browser is flawless (as long as you aren’t required to browse through Flash-based websites).
The biggest negatives of the iPad are: 1) you can’t search on the Stratus version of Toronto MLS (but I have assurances that this will be addressed in the very near future), and 2) there is no camera, so you lose the ability to run some of the better apps you can get on the iPhone.
The Safari internet browser works so well that Facebook didn’t even bother developing an iPad app. But when a website just won’t do, the iPad is incredible at running multi-touch apps. It virtually morphed my laptop in to a desktop as soon as I opened the packaging on the first day.
With its presentation tools, mobile functionality, web browsing and apps that can allow you to access files on your main computer, every Realtor should be considering an iPad.
Right now I am looking to trade in my iPhone and start getting to know one of the Android OS phones more closely. Hopefully I will have more info to share about their usability in the next few months. This Swype app really has me interested.
If you want to keep your BlackBerry you are not wrong to do so, but I would recommend adding an iPhone or an Android phone to your tool belt: combined, they currently control 81% of the amartphone market share and Android is climbing. Another great tech toy plan would be to run a BlackBerry and buy an iPad. No matter what method you choose, Realtors need to get involved in the app game.
At the end of the day, RIM (BlackBerry) lost half of their users in the past year and most of that market share was eaten up by the Google Android operating system.
On to the apps! These are listed in no particular order; some are for biz and some are for fun:
- Dragon Dictation (Free). Stop texting and driving, or wandering the street staring down at your little light box. A great voice-to-text app for notes, blogs, emails, Tweets and Facebook updates. Click, talk and post. It isn’t always 100% correct with the translation, but it is still very amazing and can save a lot of time.
- SoundHound (Free). Ever hear a song on an elevator or in a restaurant and can’t figure out what it’s called or who’s singing it? This is a music recognition app that uses the microphone to pick up the surrounding music and then searches its database for similar sound patterns before suggesting the name of the song and its singer. It also will link straight to iTunes so you can purchase the song.
- ScanLife or Vyoo.it (Free). Are you wondering what all those strange black-and-white squares are that you’re seeing in magazines, newspapers, movie posters and on real estate signs? While there are many Quick Response (QR) Code readers, Scanlife is the most widely used. Now you too can scan the QR Codes and check out the websites, videos, and links, and you can also check out QRStuff.com to generate your own QR Codes. An alternative app that can also scan most QR codes is Vyoo.it, and it can be used on any phone.
- Yelp (Free). Searching for a place to grab a bite to eat? How about a plumber? Maybe a florist? Or maybe even a Realtor! Open this app, click ‘Nearby’ and you will find the best of what’s around you (according to your peers!). Goodbye, Yellow Pages.
- U-Stream (Free). This can turn your smartphone into its very own live broadcasting video camera. If you start broadcasting an open house, you could push it out to your Facebook, Twitter or Linked-in contacts and take questions, or take people through the house who are stuck at a desk and can’t make it. Excellent way to impress your sphere and demonstrate the unique marketing that you can provide without jamming the same messages at them over and over.