April 2009 Archives

SmartPhone Customer Ratings

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JD Power:

Apple ranks highest in customer satisfaction with smartphone manufacturers, while LG ranks highest among traditional mobile phone users, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Wireless Consumer Smartphone Customer Satisfaction StudySM--Volume 1 and the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Wireless Traditional Mobile Phone Satisfaction StudySM--Volume 1 released today.

The studies measure customer satisfaction with traditional wireless handsets and smartphones across several key factors. In order of importance, key factors in examining traditional wireless handsets are operation (30%); physical design (30%); features (20%); and battery function (20%). Among residential smartphone owners, key factors are ease of operation (30%); operating system (22%); features (21%); physical design (18%); and battery function (9%).

Apple ranks highest among smartphone manufacturers with a score of 791 on a 1,000-point scale, performing particularly well in ease of operation, operating system, features and physical design. LG (772) and Samsung (759) follow Apple in the rankings.

Virtual Properties GPS HomeFinder for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

Om Malik:

Yahoo layoffs have started and seem to have hit the Flickr team. Many engineers from the service have been either laid off or are leaving on their own. Rev Dan Catt, Ashot Petrosian and Neil Kandalgaonkar were amongst those who tweeted about their exits. Catt for instance is moving back to UK. I am told Cal Henderson, Flickr Architect- a rock star developer also left, though I have not been able to confirm that. His name is missing from Flickr's about page, but I don't want to jump to conclusions.

I dropped Henderson an email to confirm. He emailed back this morning. "I have left Flickr/Yahoo. I don't have any plans yet, besides playing lots of video games and enjoying the san francisco summer," he wrote back. Kara Swisher says Cal is working with Stewart Butterfield, co-founder of Flickr on a new stealthy start-up.

Economic reality eventually prevails. Much more on the cost of free software.

This week's news that iPhone and iPod Touch sales now exceed 37 million units provides a fresh reminder that times of economic transitions present new business opportunities. AdMob's March, 2009 mobile traffic data is also worth a look:

AdMob has released its monthly Mobile Metrics Report for March, and to no one's surprise, the iPhone and iPod touch are still hot devices [iPhone demographics] for surfing the web on the go. Both are also hot devices for using mobile apps, too, as AdMob says that over half of the requests for ads from iPhones now come from third-party apps.

Worldwide, the iPhone continues to gain a significant share of mobile requests on AdMob's network. While Symbian-based devices, mostly from Nokia, continue to lead, the iPhone is catching up, mostly to Symbian's detriment. In the US, the iPhone still holds half of all requests for mobile ads compared to devices based on other OSes.

Our clients quickly deployed branded iPhone applications over the past few months. They avoided adding complexity to their business and staff, dealing with yet another vendor and system and moving data around. It just works.

One put it this way earlier today: "Dang, that's a beautiful app!"

Find out how quickly you can take advantage of today's fastest growing technology platform. Contact me, Jim Zellmer zellmer@virtualproperties.com or voice +1 608 271 9601.

Dennis Jacobe:

Plunging housing prices combined with historically low interest rates have persuaded 71% of Americans that now is a "good time" to buy a house -- up 18 percentage points from a year ago and the highest level of housing-purchase optimism in four years.
Is your business ready? Some firms will address the opportunity by growing costs, while others (fewer, probably) will embrace automation and new services, including ReData.

Related: Recent census relocation data.

McKinsey Quarterly:

In this video interactive, economist Robert Shiller discusses four aspects of the current crisis: regulating for financial innovation, reducing trust in models, redesigning institutions, and the time line for turnaround. His perspectives are informed in part through his research that psychology--particularly an understanding of human irrationality--can play a key role in explaining economic breakdowns and exploring effective solutions.

Robert Shiller is a professor of economics at Yale University and cocreator of the Case-Shiller House Price Index, which is now one of the most widely used methods of measuring performance in that industry. He also introduced into intellectual circulation the phrase "irrational exuberance," which was picked up famously by Alan Greenspan in 1996. Shiller's body of work on financial markets and economics includes the books Irrational Exuberance and, most recently, Animal Spirits.1

It is important to note that Case-Schiller monitors only 20 US markets ("Metropolitan regions").

I gave a version of this 14 minute talk at the 2009 LeadingRE annual conference without slides, in an effort to emphasize the fact that successful technology implementation (and ROI) requires strong, consistent leadership, the right people and technology partner, in that order.

The online version includes a few, simple slides.

The Economist:

Like several other Japanese business concepts of the time, kaizen begins with the letter K--like keiretsu, kanban and kakushin.

Kaizen has three underlying principles:

  • that human resources are a company's most important asset;
  • that processes must evolve by gradual improvement rather than by radical change;
  • that improvement must be based on a quantitative evaluation of the performance of different processes.
Kaizen lost some of its shine with the slowdown of the Japanese industrial bulldozer. Even Toyota, one of its most devoted exponents, came to acknowledge that kaizen had to be mixed with more radical reforms. In an interview in 2007, the company's boss, Katsuaki Watanabe, said:
Fifteen years ago I would have said that as long as we had enough people Toyota could achieve its goals through kaizen. In today's world, however, change ... may also need to be brought about by kakushin.
However, Watanabe also acknowledged that "when 70 years of very small improvements accumulate, they become a revolution".
Effective, quality software requires Kaizen, along with Toyota's observation that periodically a bold step is necessary. In our case, the bold steps might include
  • significant interface improvements that reduce user steps,
  • extensive automation to replace manual processes,
  • pervasive mapping tools that are faster and more useful than traditional searches,
  • first to market with branded iPhone, iPod Touch GPS HomeFinder tools,
  • a sophisticated, redundant approach to mls data error management and
  • professional photography, vr and video that differentiates your listings, websites, leads and agents.

We began working on Main Street in the mid 1990's. Today, in 2009, the software is extraordinarily capable, flexible and modern. The foundation has been rewritten and updated no less than five times, a process that is essential to constant improvement.

No Free Lunch: YouTube on Life Support?

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Benjamin Wayne:

YouTube, that incandescent tower of video Babel; monument to the sloughed-off detritus of our exponentially-exploding digital culture; a Technicolor cataract of skateboarding dogs, lip-synching college students, political punditry, and porn; has reached the zenith of its meteoric rise; and Icarus-like, wings melting; is spiraling back to earth. Despite massive growth, ubiquitous global brand awareness, presidential endorsement, and the world's greatest repository of illegally-pirated video content, Google's massive video folly is on life-support, and the prognosis is grave.

Believers would have us think that Google (GOOG) will sustain YouTube, indefinitely if necessary. Proponents of online advertising argue that increased understanding of the medium will lead to more advertising dollars at better CPMs, lifting all boats in a sea of monetization. In the short term, however, neither celebrity presidents, a rabidly growing customer base, nor a brand which has in three short years injected itself into the global cultural lexicon can forestall the inevitable: YouTube is soaring towards the future like a pigeon towards a plate glass window.

The problem lies with the bean-counters. According to a report by Credit Suisse, YouTube is on track to lose roughly $470 million in 2009. No matter Google's $116 billion market cap: a half-billion dollar loss on a single property, even one as large as YouTube, is a bitter pill to swallow. Even Eric Schmidt, talking to the New York Times about the YouTube acquisition, was quick to say that, going forward, Google would "be more careful with potential large expense streams, which are of uncertain return."

"Free" services never are, the costs (and risks) eventually arrive.

Kenneth Harney:

Are lowballed valuation estimates on short sales and bank-owned foreclosures artificially depressing property values in neighborhoods across the country?

Growing numbers of appraisers and consumer groups believe the answer is yes - and are demanding that either Congress or state regulators crack down. Their complaints focus on what are called "broker price opinions," also known as BPOs, that substitute for actual appraisals.

Unlike standard property valuations performed by licensed appraisers - which can run to hundreds of dollars - the opinions often cost $50 and are performed by real estate agents who may have minimal or no appraisal training and are subject to no regulatory oversight. Realty agents defend the opinions, arguing that their extensive knowledge of local market trends equips them to render accurate estimates.

The opinions have become a booming business as foreclosures and short sales have risen sharply. When banks that own foreclosed houses need to put values on them for resale, increasingly they order opinions that can be delivered quickly at rock-bottom fees.

Short sales - when a lender agrees to take less than the principal amount owed by a delinquent owner provided the property is sold to a new buyer - also frequently entail use of the opinions.

A Funny Take on "Twitter" Speak

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Professor Sabena:

In a stunning reversal of fortunes one of the most respected newspapers in Britain the Grauniad today announced the end of its Print Publication services and a move to all Twitter.


It also revealed that the publication has in fact been Tweeting for many years. Opening up its archives for some critical moments in history - it showed the following messages from its archive:

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