Easiest advantage to spot: full screen pictures
Rather than relying on their browser, the growing army of Android users can now use the native Trulia app, the first major real estate search company app to launch a product for the Android tablet. The most obvious advantage of the Trulia app is the full screen photos that users now have access to, as opposed to other mobile devices like an iPhone which offers a much smaller screen for viewing.
The Trulia app has interactive mapping features to accommodate user expectation of map searching since they’re mobile, and the neighborhood information Trulia users expect are also built in, like restaurants, schools and retailers near any listing. Trulia emphasizes the agent contact button, putting mobile consumers in touch with Realtors more readily.
“Trulia is committed to maximizing user options for Android, the fastest-growing mobile platform out there. Android tablets like the Sony S and Amazon Kindle Fire are new to market, but they’ll undoubtedly start to matter to a greater number of consumers, and Trulia looks forward to participating in the success of this new platform,” said Steven Yarger, Trulia’s Mobile Product Manager. “Our in-house Android experts have found the platform to be flexible and powerful, with a lot of room for creativity, which makes for quality, optimized experiences for our users in the Android ecosystem.”
What this means for Realtors
Realtors aren’t required to be tech support for the real estate search sector, so real estate professionals don’t necessarily need to own or touch every single app on the market, but being aware of their existence is important. If a Realtor is on the road with a consumer that wants to use a native app on their Android, Trulia is currently their only option, which a well informed agent will know.
Ultimately, though, the idea that photos are being seen in such large scale is critical for the industry to respond to. If agents continue to use 1997 cell phones to take drive-by shots of a listing, they won’t convey on a tablet and will be passed over, doing a major disservice to their listing clients and the buyers. Ken Shuman, Trulia’s Head of Communications told AGBeat that more photos and better quality photos means more clicks on a listing, which is a win for the listing agent.
This should serve as a reminder for the industry that sloppy, poor quality photos are no longer acceptable, and because almost every single real estate transaction starts online (or via app), having many photos that are high resolution is becoming increasingly more urgent, especially with innovations like this one from Trulia.
What this means for real estate search companies
We broke the story last night of Realtor.com launching their newest version of their iPhone and iPad apps and noted that the real estate search wars were about to heat back up, with this story being a small part of that assertion. We have been waiting to see who would get to the finish line first for the Android tablet app, and while this is a first version of a product and fairly limited, it is paving the way for innovation competition which is ultimately good for consumers.
Each company’s mobile strategy is slightly different, and each is placing bets on where the long term money will be, but each are going about innovation differently with some taking a startup (read: risk) approach while others are slow and steady. Expect many more mobile innovations this year, some of which could even make you say “I wish I had thought of that!”
Apple announced the 128 GB iPad will launch next week
Apple’s product announcement today of a new 128 GB iPad has been met with mixed reactions as the company shifts its process in the post-Jobs era.
128 GB iPad on the way
Apple today announced a new 128 GB version of the fourth generation iPad with retina display to be launched next Tuesday, February 5th in black or white. Pricing will be set at $799 for the iPad with Wi-Fi, and $949 for the iPad with Wi-Fi + Cellular model.
“With more than 120 million iPads sold, it’s clear that customers around the world love their iPads, and everyday they are finding more great reasons to work, learn and play on their iPads rather than their old PCs,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “With twice the storage capacity and an unparalleled selection of over 300,000 native iPad apps, enterprises, educators and artists have even more reasons to use iPad for all their business and personal needs.”
Mixed reactions to the 128 GB iPad launch
“The features and capabilities of iPad give us the ability to set a new standard for multitrack recording and editing on a mobile device,” said Rim Buntinas, WaveMachine Labs’ CEO. “Users of the Auria app can play 48 mono or stereo 24bit/96 kHz tracks simultaneously, record up to 24 of those tracks simultaneously, and also edit and mix with familiar tools. With its portability and all-day battery life, iPad has revolutionized recording for audio professionals allowing artists to record anywhere.”
Fans have taken to Twitter to hail the announcement, particularly musicians and media creators, but a large number of Apple fans have commented on blogs that while excited, they had hoped for a different kind of innovation, or an announcement of a next generation device rather than a pricier version of what they are already carrying in hand.
With rumors continuing to echo that Apple will create lower-end devices (read: cheap) for developing nations, skeptics are quietly questioning the company’s plans, and with the product launch schedule becoming more erratic, the company is not necessarily losing its popularity by any means, but die hard fans are showing signs of fatigue at bi-annual (possibly soon to be tri-annual?) product rollouts that theoretically make their brand new expensive device old.
Next generation iPad, iPad mini may be released in March
Continuing with Apple’s accelerated launch schedule, rumors are flying of a spring iPad and iPad mini launch.
iPad and iPad mini: spring launch?
A new report showcasing observations from the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas includes hints at a spring release for the next generation iPad and iPad mini.
Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White said, “Our checks at CES indicate Apple will release the iPad 5 and the second-generation iPad mini this March. The iPad 5 is expected to be lighter and thinner than the iPad 4 that was released in October, while the form factor of the iPad mini should be similar to the first generation iPad mini that debuted in October.”
These reports are similar to what various international bloggers have noted, with dozens of claims that Apple is now observing an accelerated product release schedule, particularly with the iOS family of devices, as the company aggressively seeks to keep their market share.
Big changes at Apple
In years past, the company typically observed annual update cycles, and tech analysts could react accordingly, as could consumers, but last fall’s fourth-generation iPad release only seven months after the third generation iPad shocked the world. Many assumed the move was a way to usher in the post-Jobs era after the passing of the company’s CEO, but with rumors swirling of a spring release and the possibility of more releases annually, it appears a change in the company rather than a one-time marketing ploy. It remains unclear.
Rumors of a less expensive iPhone for emerging global markets were subject to criticism as more than one executive said it would never happen, others say the company plans to offer lower priced smartphones without sacrificing quality, but other analysts note the opposite.
Coupling the two recent rumor reports, the most obvious conclusion one can come to is that Apple is coming up with a new formula in the face of tight competition.
20 million touchscreen Google Chromebooks to ship in 2012?
Reports out of China indicate that rumors of a touchscreen Google Chromebook are true as a Taiwanese component maker is gearing up to outfit 20 million units of Google’s own branded Chromebook.
Google Chromebook going touchscreen?
As laptops and dekstops are increasingly becoming touchscreen to compete with the surging tablet market, reports out of China indicate that Google Chromebooks are going the way of touchscreen as well, which would bring the cloud-centric computing theory to a broader user base. Digitimes.com reports that Google will launch a 12.85-inch Chrome OS touch-controlled notebook for own-brand sale, with Taiwan-based Compal Electronics responsible for OEM production and Wintek supplying touch panels, citing the Chinese-language Commercial Times (CT) indicates, based on Taiwan-based supply chain makers.
The technology news outlet says that Taiwan-based makers have begun shipping components for the notebook and Compal will start shipments as soon as the end of 2012.
Making the Chromebook touchscreen could make it a viable competitor to various tablets already on the market as well as those set to hit for the holidays, with Chromebook fans lauding the light weight and innovative operating system, perfect for true mobile browsing, which functions far differently from the app-heavy tablets Google is clearly taking aim at with their next product.
A new strategy for Google?
Additionally, a touchscreen Chromebook would indicate the first new strategy coming out of the Chromebook department, as the current devices run between $200 and $450, a low barrier to entry which has aided adoption since its launch. Critics claim that because Chromebooks must be connected to the internet in order to function, they could limit use, but supporters claim that most offline use is now within range of wi-fi, making the cloud-based system ideal, freeing up hard drive space for actual use rather than heavy programs and operating systems.
Some believe that this new touchscreen could raise the cost of the device, which could make its competitive edge dull a bit, but it would also put it in the price range of many of the new touchscreen laptops hitting the market, which could help it to directly compete not only on features, but by being featured alongside bigger competitors like the new Microsoft Surface.
With 20 million units reportedly being outfitted by Taiwan’s Compal and shipping in 2012, technologist’s eyes and shoppers’ eyes will be squarely on the inexpensive Chromebook options, especially when it offers touchscreen options.
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