Recently in GPS HomeFinder Category

First: happy new year and best wishes for a healthy and prosperous 2010!

Second: 2010 change and opportunity.

I have been traveling extensively the past few weeks. It is always interesting and useful to observe people, their activities and gadgets.

Hands down, iPhone and iPod Touch devices dominated aircraft, airport and holiday scenes. I did see a few blackberries (one family had a company blackberry and several iPhones) and one Droid.

The recent smartphone explosion along with the introduction of useful "tablet" or "slate" devices will continue to change the way in which people use, create and interact with real estate information.

Most importantly, it will change their expectations......

What does this mean for brokers and agents?

## A) Mobile

The "killer app" - from a VP customer - for real estate buyers, sellers and professionals.

www.virtualproperties.com/iphone/

Our second major release in 9 months, your branded iPhone app provides essential website functions in a faster, easier to use application. Always on, this "app" can be accessed at home, work, on the go, while working out, dining, traveling - anywhere.

Our software makes sure the app is up to date with the latest property information and technology. It includes property comparison tools and unlimited use mapping services. Stop paying for maps on a per click basis.

Your organization must be in this space.

There will be competing devices, though it is not yet clear who will successfully challenge the iPhone infrastructure.

## B) "Tablet or Slate" computing and real estate

There has been no shortage of hype recently about these new devices. From my perspective, the real change will be to traditional laptop formats. Physical keyboards will certainly be available for some time, but, virtual keyboards (via touchscreens with "multi-touch" gestures) will take over the volume portable device space.

Many real estate firms have published traditional magazines, as a marketing and advertising vehicle.

This conceptual video, by Bonner Mag+ neatly summarizes digital magazine possibilities with emerging devices:

http://www.bonnier.com/en/content/digital-magazines-bonnier-mag-prototype

The video reinforces the benefits of high quality, well organized information. Our Main Street single entry cloud software generates timely media and text content for many publications in different formats, including html and pdf. Our clients do not need to add yet another vendor and platform to support these emerging applications.

www.virtualproperties.com/rt/ms.html

## C) Your Website

The iPhone app explosion is changing buyer and seller information convenience and access expectations. Does your website address these changing customer desires?

Accelerate your website with our Main Street cloud software's new customer portal tools. From lead generation to transactions and customer for life, Main Street manages your world in real time.

One vendor.

Virtual Properties is your trusted technology team - since 1995. Do you have the right people, platform and technology partner for 2010 and beyond?

In Tight Market, Real Estate Agents Tout Eco Features

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Elizabeth Shogren:

With the real estate market still hurting across most of the country, a growing number of real estate agents, builders and homeowners are pitching the green features of properties to try to lure buyers.

But in much of the country, green buyers and sellers struggle to find each other. In most places, the listing services that realtors and appraisers use make it difficult to search for eco-friendly real estate.

And most buyers still put a higher value on location, price and traditional amenities than on environmentally friendly additions.

Green Sells Better If It Also Saves Money

Still, when real estate agent Jennifer Halm shows clients around the stately, historic-looking condominium building in the popular Old Town neighborhood of Alexandria, Va., she highlights the property's green features.

Main Street along with our unlimited use mapping services and broker branded iPhone app support eco searching and data display.

The Profit and Peril of Mashups

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What is a "mashup"? According to this wikipedia entry, "In web development, a mashup is a web page or application that combines data or functionality from two or more external sources to create a new service."

Real estate brokers and agents may wish to take advantage of "free" internet api's (application programming interface). Websites such as flickr, facebook, youtube, yelp and many others offer programatic interfaces to their data and media.

What are the benefits of such API's?

  • Aggregate local information around properties for sale or rent.
  • Enhance your website "experience".
  • Avoid the cost of collecting and managing local information.
What are the costs and risks of using such API's?
  • Bad data. Automated information aggregators often lack local expertise. Information may be outdated; a long closed restaurant may still have a review on your website.
  • Inappropriate content. I created a Facebook demonstration for a client some time ago. The resulting page included an advertisement for Filipino Girls.
  • What motivates the data aggregator? Is their strategy aligned with yours?
  • Does the data make your site more generic?
  • Competitive stealth advertising on your site. Savvy competitors will figure this out and place their content on your site via the API's.
What are the alternatives to "mashups"?

Your agents have a wealth of local market knowledge. Hire or appoint a "blog-o-spondent" or "blogger-in-chief". This person creates and aggregates your own content (text, audio, video, maps) on your blog, around your website(s) and via appropriate social networks. Over time, agents and staff post directly and incorporate your listings, services and our unlimited use maps (for a fixed price). Create your own platform that emphasizes your brand. This approach improves recruiting, retention and internet marketing in ways that you control and at a much lower cost than traditional advertising.

Main Street reliably supports the tools you need, from blogs, dynamic short links, lead management, surveys and multimedia to market reports and live charting tools.

As always, there is no "free lunch".

Mary Meeker, Scott Devitt & Liang Wu [1.5MB PDF]:

Mary Meeker, Scott Devitt & Liang Wu [1.5MB PDF]:
Financial Market + Economy Update / Dashboard
  1. Financial Markets Have Rebounded, Technology Sector = Relatively Impressive.
  2. Leading Economic Indicators Seem to Have Turned Corner, Coincident / Lagging Indicators Still Weak.
Mobile = Incremental Driver of Internet User / Usage Growth
  1. Mobile Internet Usage Is and Will Be Bigger than Most Think.
  2. Apple Mobile Share Should Surprise on Upside Near-Term.
  3. Next Generation Platforms (Social Networking + Mobile) Driving Unprecedented Change in Communications + Commerce.
  4. Mobile in Japan + Desktop Internet Provide Roadmaps for Mobile Growth + Monetization.
  5. 3G Adoption / Trends Vary By Geography.
  6. Carriers in USA / W. Europe Face Surging Network Demand But Uncertain Economics.
  7. Regulators Can Help Advance / Slow Mobile Internet Evolution.
  8. Mobile-Related Share Shifts Will Create / Destroy Material Shareholder Wealth.


Virtual Properties latest broker branded iPhone app is now available. Contact us to learn more: zellmer@virtualproperties.com Virtual Properties provides a number of real time, mobile tools, including its 2nd generation iPhone app, mobile public websites and Main Street intranet tools.

Appland: How smartphones are transforming our lives

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Richard Fisher:

My wife is standing at the door to the bathroom, watching me time my toothbrush routine using an application downloaded to my iPhone. Thirty seconds on upper-right molars: done. "What are you doing?" she asks. "Nothing," I mumble through a mouthful of toothpaste. She doesn't speak, but her eyes say "I think I love you a little less." If only she understood

Ever since I bought an Apple iPhone, I have been hooked on apps (see "What's app, Doc?"). Apple's App Store is a virtual shopping mall with all the shopaholic joy of a real mall but none of the annoying teenagers. It is packed to the virtual rafters with thousands of downloadable software tools. Admittedly, the store makes a bad first impression on many people, with novelty apps such as lightsabres dominating the top 25 chart. But dig a little deeper and you will find life-enhancing riches.

I confess that I now turn to the App Store in almost every situation. In unfamiliar places, I use apps to find the nearest gas station, cinema or even public toilet. I track the length and time of my commute. All my gym workouts are logged. Finding a nice place to eat while on the move is a cinch. Even this article is brought to you thanks to a voice recorder app (iDictaphone) that I used for recording interviews, and one that helped me "mind map" my thoughts when planning it out. Sometimes I daydream about becoming the most virtually enhanced human in the world.

Virtual Properties released a location based (GPS HomeFinder) real estate broker/agent branded iPhone app earlier this year. An update will be available this fall. Our clients have deployed mobile websites as well, ranging from straightforward support for many phones to sophisticated smartphone sites.

These mobile applications use GPS and mapping data. We offer detailed, frequently updated maps and satellite imagery for a fixed fee. This means our clients can grow applications and volumes without paying more - an important factor in today's market. (Search engine map fees are based on usage - the more you use, the more you pay). Contact us at 608 271 9601 or zellmer@virtualproperties.com to learn more.

comScore:

The number of people using their mobile device to access news and information on the Internet more than doubled from January 2008 to January 2009. Among the audience of 63.2 million people who accessed news and information on their mobile devices in January 2009, 22.4 million (35 percent) did so daily; more than double the size of the audience last year.

GPS HomeFinder: iPhone 3G and Blackberry Storm?

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Our ReData® GPS HomeFinder for the iPhone 3G allows real estate agents, managers, buyers and sellers to quickly view properties for sale or rent near their current location via a smart map (video demo).

RIM's (Research in Motion) recently announced Blackberry Storm is their first touch screen smartphone. The Storm includes GPS. We are evaluating the Storm and hope to support GPS HomeFinder soon.

Read these reviews of the Blackberry Storm:

  • Joshua Topolsky:
    It's clear from the device itself and the massive promotional push that both RIM and Verizon are giving the Storm that they view this as a proper threat to the iPhone's dominance in the smartphone market. Over the last few weeks we've been bombarded with commercials, leaks, press releases, and special events all celebrating the arrival of the Storm, both here and abroad. So it seems fairly obvious that yes, the companies believe they have a real contender on their hands -- and in many ways they do. The selling points are easy: the phone is gorgeous to look at and hold, it's designed and backed by RIM (now almost a household name thanks to their prevalence in the business and entertainment markets), and it's packed with features that, at first glance, make it seem not only as good as the iPhone, but better. The only hitch in this plan is a major one: it's not as easy, enjoyable, or consistent to use as the iPhone, and the one place where everyone is sure they have an upper hand -- that wow-inducing clickable screen -- just isn't all that great. For casual users, the learning curve and complexity of this phone will feel like an instant turn off, and for power users, the lack of a decent typing option and considerable lagginess in software will give them pause. RIM tried to strike some middle ground between form and function, and unfortunately came up short on both.
  • Walt Mossberg @ Wall Street Journal:
    verall, the Storm is a very capable handheld computer that will appeal to BlackBerry users who have been pining for a touch-controlled device with a larger screen. And it offers yet another good option for anyone who is looking to buy one of the new, more powerful, pocket computers.
  • Matt Buchanan:
    The Storm is a strong effort from RIM, but it's not quite the killer phone that they or Verizon need it to be. It's good--RIM clearly put a lot of thought into the design. But I think it fall short of what they were aiming for, and ultimately what all the hype is driving people to expect. Some of this is fixable: The damn thing needs to crash less often. But SurePress is not the end-all, be-all of touchscreen technologies--it's not really an evolutionary step forward, even. The experience may be fairly refined, but more polish is still needed. Had this Storm been left to brew a bit longer, it would've been much more powerful.
Related: AdMob Mobile Metrics [200K PDF Report]:
Here are a few interesting findings from the most recent report:
  • The iPhone is now the #1 device worldwide in the AdMob Network with 4.1% share of requests in October. Since AdMob launched its ad units for iPhone sites and applications, iPhone requests have increased from 28 million in July to 236 million in October. This month, we break out iPhone requests by country and region.
  • 62.8% of iPhone requests were from the US, where the iPhone is the #2 device behind the RAZR. 5.0% of iPhone requests came from the UK, where the iPhone is the #3 device behind the Nokia N95 and Sony Ericsson K800i. Other top markets include Canada, France, Japan, Australia, and Germany.
  • As part of our commitment to providing detailed insight into different regions, this month we provide traffic, manufacturer, and device data for Latin America & the Caribbean. Traffic from the region increased 138% in the last 12 months to 109 million requests in October 2008.
  • Motorola, Nokia, and Sony Ericsson all have greater than 20% market share in Latin America and are each leaders in different markets. The Motorola RAZR is the top device in the region with 10.3% share and is a Top 20 Handset in each of the top Latin American markets.
  • Worldwide requests grew 13.8% month over month to 5.8 billion. US requests grew 7.9% to 2.2 billion and UK requests grew 16.0% to 229 million in October 2008.
Finally, our ReData® maps are updated quarterly, support extensive customization and, most importantly are available on a fixed price basis for unlimited use. Other mapping services allow competitors to advertise on your site and/or charge a per click fee, which means that you cannot control your mapping costs or quality of service.

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