Vendors have a challenge
A really big challenge. That challenge is the pace of change in the technology industry that grows exponentially every year. Because of the internet, consumers are more aware than ever of what tools vendors have to work with and when the winds of change start rolling in, consumers demand that vendors follow.
MLS vendors have an even more extensive challenge. Each MLS system has different business rules, for example, not all areas calculate days on market the same way and a simple MLS committee vote can change these rules. Those changes are expected to be updated in an MLS provider and that expectation is reasonable.
For years, a common standard has been sought in real estate feeds in the form of the Real Estate Transaction Standard (RETS). Mobile technologies have changed how Realtors input information into the MLS and how consumers see the data. Times have changed.
The challenge of browser compatibility
The challenge we address today is browser compatibility. We have heard from several MLS vendors that exist only on Internet Explorer that they’re working toward possibly becoming compliant with other browsers, but hear “it takes time” as the most common reason IE is still the only option despite the decline in its use globally. To be fair, some providers are now compliant with Chrome and Firefox, but we cannot locate an IE9 compliant MLS provider and those that are cross browser compliant mostly run on Flash and cannot be used on iPads.
1996 to 2011
I’ve outlined in red and green at what points a vendor should reasonably be expected to offer their product on a browser. If you look at the expansion and contraction, there is a relatively predictability in the growth patterns, so let’s start at the top. Prior to 1997, Netscape was the only major browser option, but by 1997, the growth expansion of Internet Explorer was large enough that vendors should have begun offering browser compliance (or at least be in focus groups researching their consumers). Between 1999 and 2000, the decline was so sharp with Netscape and the increase of IE so large that it would have been reasonable for vendors to discontinue improvement of their product for Netscape and focused on IE.
But this is where many vendors are stuck. The year 2000, but by 2007, Firefox adoption was large enough that consumers could reasonably expect a version of a tech product to be offered in IE as well as Firefox. This brings us to 2011. Based on the expansion/contraction paths of the past, 2011 is the year that vendors should reasonably be expected to exist on three platforms, now including Chrome.
The cost of browser compliance
It can be expensive to be cross-browser compliant, and adoption can pull a company in multiple directions, but it is the cost of doing business in the internet era for vendors. Several are working behind the scenes already to make this happen, but we hear rumors that some vendors plan on sticking with Internet Explorer.
That choice will only fly for a little bit longer as consumers, Realtors and Associations will not put up with it if there is a viable alternative. But for those vendors that closely study adoption (and you can tell who they are based on their offering), they will stay afloat.
Disclosure: an AG sister company is working with a Board of Realtors to evaluate one MLS provider through sentiment studies.