Zillow, 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.
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?
The 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, Realtor.com 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.