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Tech War Will Highlight Lack of Innovation in Real Estate in 2010

apple_tabletZillow, Trulia and Cyberhomes hands down get the AG Change award on how we search and visualize real estate over the last decade, and Apple’s iPhone wins point blank in the smart phone race.  But who cares?  Even the iPhone looks and feels boring again after its reign as king, and everyone has maps and search… lethargy?

Not Google, as it intends on making this the decade that its branded phone (unveiled, January 5) crushes the iPhone, and I suspect that it will. Innovation from Apple has been weak over the past several years in comparison to its promises to revolutionize how we use the telephone- fine, you did that, and you account for 50% of of U.S. mobile web traffic but what have you done for us lately? Oh yeah, that gigantic iPod-looking tablet you’re also releasing in January for an early adopting, wallet ripping, grand a piece?  Seriously?  Please. There’s already speculation and rumor of Google’s Tablet or you can go the route of the JooJoo (CrunchPad) at half that price, or simply scoop up a Windows version.

Windows (Bing, Yahoo) mobile, and now Google (Nexus One (Google Phone)), Android (and Google itself), have different ideas for Apple’s growing mobile market share (which in January 2009 was 48%, and by June was 64%) in 2010, and I predict they’ll seal the deal on diminishing it on sheer price point and volume, as apps and a cool factor will no longer be enough (especially since Android went from 800 apps in January 2009 to over 20,000 in December 2009 versus Apple’s 60,000 apps that took over 2.5 years to accumulate)… unless Apple sees it fitting to jump into search? Ah, wouldn’t that be neat (hint)?

Those of you heading to Inman Connect this January should cash in your tickets now and exchange them for tickets to what we’re predicting will be the real peek inside the future of real estate and that’s the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show where most of this year’s consumer electronics will be unveiled and where we’re expecting (and others promise) to see mobile dominate.  Or, you can just go to Inman where last month, they discovered video as a “game changer” (sigh).   Instead, you might want to go and learn what’s really going to be changing the game, and that’s mobile- not iPhone mobile, but bundled search mobile (I’ll repeat… bundled search) with (if real estate is smart) a 2020 type real estate search experience with a focus on the search found experience.

In 2010, if they’re not already, Zillow, Trulia, Cyberhomes, and anyone else who used to lead innovation in the real estate space should be eyes wide open as to what’s happening with Tablet computing, and even more importantly, the smart(er) phone, and should be tailoring device recognition as well as tailored search with the branded agent in mind- this is, in my opinion, where the action’s beginning in 2010.

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Imagine a world where you can point your Google device at a home and see completely around the exterior and click in to see the interior via Google Real Estate on your Google phone- no need imagining it, it’s already here, and would you like some augmented reality with that? Or how about some Google Goggles?

googletabletThe real estate space is relying too heavily on others like Google for innovation rather than building internal value with the exception being Zillow’s neighborhoods database– this is absolutely brilliant and gets very little press in my opinion, and guess what?  It doesn’t rely on Google. The promise of this product taps the polarity of mobile products like the tablet to be used in tandem with or separately from Google- a stand alone consumer experience- a win for Zillow in 2010 as one imagines Social Apps shared across the internet offering agent listings even broader indirect and even direct exposure, built on the appeal of neighborhoods.

Consider if you will that 30 million users currently access facebook via mobile device, and are 50% more active than non-mobile users, that’s almost 6 million more people than live in the entire state of Texas. Couple this with the statistics on iPhone’s growing market share, and you really begin to understand where the race truly is and how real estate should be positioning itself.

In my opinion, the race isn’t about having 20 different mobile apps, the race will be about having unique experiences based on the visiting device (not just one app for a single appliance). Secondly, moving away from a world that taps what any of the big players are doing and creating unique innovations that bring experience traffic (virtually no innovation since 2008… did you know that other than Trulia’s Facebook sharing feature, Zillow, and Cyberhomes completely ignore the option for consumers to share found listings on social networks?), and the IDX players should be realizing this as well (when you consider agent dependence on the non unique flat platform consumer experience they’re offering).

2010 may not be the year that the big bang is heard, but I pray that 2010 is the year that at least lethargy dies within the real estate technology space.

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Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network. Before AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation has received the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular offline events. He does not venture into the spotlight often, rather he believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits and develops, so he gives all credit to those he's empowered.



  1. Duke Long

    January 4, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    WHEW>>>Dude…. you are back and cranking.

  2. Melanie Wyne

    January 4, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    If you are like me and won’t be in Vegas this week for CES (sigh) you can at least look at the new virtual conference program here and get a glimpse of what Benn is talking about….

  3. @NYPierre

    January 4, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Fantastic post! I cannot agree more, mobile has so much more to offer – beyond the device and apps as well. I think that the “sweet spot” for mobile development is finally here:

    available technology / innovation / capital investment / low production cost

    These are the things that will finally bring a real mobile opportunity to the real estate world. This will only get easier and more advanced as more standards come out – sort of like how HTML changed the web. I remember reading a post somewhere about new standards for cross platform developing, anyway – great post!

  4. Erion Shehaj

    January 4, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    Welcome Back! 🙂

  5. Portland Condo Auctions

    January 4, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    Check out the HomeQuest WordPress IDX Plugin when it comes out. It is going to make a lot of this easier by integrating WP, Google, and listings from the MLS.


  6. Thomas Johnson

    January 4, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    “Apple’s growing mobile market share (which in January 2009 was 48%, and by June was 64%) in 2010, and I predict they’ll seal the deal on diminishing it on sheer price point and volume,”

    Has anyone ever mentioned that the iPhone is a really really terrible cell phone? Like when you dial a number and expect to speak to another human being and expect that they can hear you and not hang up on them? For $100/month (just for voice- data plan and cool apps extra) is that too much to ask?
    Or, maybe I am not cool enough to hang up on a client and not have them get pissed off. Is there an App for that?

  7. Roberta Murphy

    January 4, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    Welcome back Benn!

    Wish I could afford the luxury of not needing reliable phone service because then I could have an iPhone with 100,000+ apps. Instead, have settled for the Droid and just begun to explore the potential power of Google Goggles, Google Maps, Google Sky, Google Voice Search ++++ And then there’s the ability to remove the battery and reboot if things freeze up.

    The phone? It just works. Really works.

  8. Kevin Tomlinson

    January 5, 2010 at 12:13 am

    Hey Benn.

    Now this is a friggin’ blog post. I’m addicted to Google. Switching from exchange server email to Google Apps premier. Exchange server email =$140/mo –Google apps premier $50/year!

    I’m on the droid. Google Voice is killer. I have many international clients and I call them from my cell via GV for $.03 per minute.

    No posts on that! Most agents would love to know the power of Google Voice.

    Google will own the world. And for the record–I’m having me a good ol’ chug of their kool aid.

    Welcome back. HNY.

    • Benn Rosales

      January 5, 2010 at 12:16 am

      just make sure you pick up a few shares while you’re at it, their phone fell flat on wall street today leaving an opportunity to grab a few extra before they start dropping new flavors.

  9. Kevin Tomlinson

    January 5, 2010 at 12:15 am

    Did you see inman’s twit earlier? They are now selling their services to vendors to learn how to sell their “oil” to agents. ROFLMAO

    • Benn Rosales

      January 5, 2010 at 1:07 am

      ahh I wasn’t sure what you were talking about, that’s being taught by Greg Robertson (lives in your area I think), that should be an insanely great lab for any start-up. Go have coffee with him if he didn’t move back to Cali.

  10. Kevin Tomlinson

    January 5, 2010 at 12:40 am

    whaa? what happened w/phone &wall st. today?

    didn’t hear

    • Benn Rosales

      January 5, 2010 at 12:45 am

      no stock surge on nexus one phone rumors, unlike apple soaring on rumors of the tablet. should give you some time to pick up a few extra google shares 🙂

  11. Kevin Tomlinson

    January 5, 2010 at 12:52 am

    oh..i should do that.

  12. Jason Berman

    January 5, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    Speculation on the Apple tablet is pre-mature. No one truly knows what Apple has up their sleeve until they announce it themselves. No rumor mill has been more incorrect than those pundits that pontificate before an announcement out of Cupertino.

    I think Googles impact on mobile computing will hurt MicroSoft & Research In Motion more than Apple. The iPhone is a runaway hit and it will take several iterations of Google Phones before Google might attract iPhone fans away from their device.

    Doesn’t really matter does it? It’s all about how you use the device and how it integrates with the rest of your content.

  13. Robert Luna

    January 5, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    “raising the bar” & “consumer experience” these are the things i have heard you say for a long time my friend and you are “right on the money!” … they made Steve Austin faster,stronger,better,etc.(for all you bionic man fans) and so shall we. looking forward to seeing who develops what and what 2010 has to offer.

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