Trend for 2010: “It’s Mobile, stoopid”

Gordon GeckoRemember the iconic 1980s movie ‘Wall Street’ in which Michael Douglas walks along a beach watching the sun rise while talking into his mobile phone? The thing was about as big as his head (which was big), yet was the symbol of power, wealth, technology and cool. Looking back at it now, the device forces a smile, just like those beige box-like floppy drive PCs of the same era.

Fast forward nearly a quarter of a century, and the current generation of mobile phones are really pocket PCs, things that might have impressed Flash Gordon or Captain Kirk in earlier eras. We check our emails, surf the web, listen to music, take pictures, download and pay for apps – from anywhere. It slips into our pocket, we own it, it’s ours. With the iPhone, it’s stylish to be a geek, and if you’re a newcomer to all this, welcome to the party.

A year ago, mobile traffic to web sites, and real estate sites in particular, did not rate. Yet already 23% of Australians with mobiles use them to access the internet, even though total internet traffic is estimated to be less than 1% through a mobile device (ABS). Still early days.

Part of this could be the catch up of consumers, part of this could be the lack of mobile-ready websites and the small number of ‘real estate’ apps in the iphone App Store. A recent search of “real estate” apps turned up only 5 Australian ones (plenty of American), among these a couple of multi-office real estate agencies, and among the main portals only Domain are present.

In the States, Zillow.com were reported as saying up to 35% of their weekend traffic comes from mobile devices. Pete Flint, CEO of Trulia.com, claims (more believably) their mobile traffic is in the “5 to 10% range”, while a year ago “it was negligible”. Although iphones account for only 8% of our mobile devices, 50% of mobile traffic is coming from iphone apps. Realestate.com.au, in Australia, reported “exponential growth” to its mobile site in December (150,000 unique visitors), claiming this to be “additional” traffic.

Whatever the claims and stats being bandied about, it would appear that mobile is going to be the trend of 2010. Social media is “…like, so 2009”.

It makes intuitive sense that mobile traffic should figure more this year – the technology is here, you can be walking down that beach watching the sunrise and getting your real estate fix. There are apps being developed where you point your camera phone at a building and can see which properties are for sale, at what price and what has sold recently. Househunting is an activity that still takes us out and about, checking into home opens, trawling suburbs in our cars, walking down streets. With the mobile in our pocket, do we really need anything else?

So get ready for the upsurge of mobile web designers and iphone app developers. (There will be snake oil salesmen among them.) And with that, the question – do we “mobilise” our web site or get an iphone app developed, or both, or neither? The former allows your site to be accessible on most, if not all net-ready mobiles (much more fiddly to have coded than you might think). The latter allows people to download your app, have it in their menu making it easily accessible. Apps are sexy and cool, great PR spin, but are more expensive to develop. And how do you get YOUR app downloaded, especially when (in say a year or two’s time) there are hundreds of Australian real estate apps in the iStore, rather than 5? This is the brave new world we seem to be moving into.

Photo Credit – Jamie Riddell, http://www.flickr.com/photos/jamieriddell/2166586104/

applications, iPhone, mobile

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About Charlie Gunningham

Charlie set up aussiehome.com in Perth with a uni mate during the height of the dotcom boom in 1999. He

7 Responses to Trend for 2010: “It’s Mobile, stoopid”

  1. Nick January 29, 2010 at 8:55 am #

    Somehow I dont think so unfortunately.

    I’m a tech savvy user with a smart phone and internet on it.
    What do I use the net for? Um…perhaps BOM when a storm is coming in and I’m on the move, sometimes email, little bit of Youtube and not a lot else.
    I do sometimes ‘teather’ my phone to my laptop and surf that way.

    In my family there are 3 more smart phones. One doesnt even have internet, and the other two arent used for surfing.

    And even if you do decide to pull up a real estate site on your phone, the internal browsers are excellent. Good work Webkit.
    Whats that? There is a mobile version? But why cant I just use the normal site?

    I might just be a pessimist but most people just cant be bothered surfing on a small screen.
    Sydney’s mobile reception on trains is somewhere between non-existent and useless so people dont even surf while commuting.

  2. Rachael Lord January 29, 2010 at 9:41 am #

    Interesting blogpost! Everyday something new for the industry

  3. Garry Thomas January 29, 2010 at 10:06 am #

    We have done a lot of research on the apps market and are working on bringing these out in a cost effective way shortly.

    The trick is that the app should be able to be used by smart phones other than the iPhone. Our apps will work with Blackberry, Nokia, Android and most smart phones available on the market today as well as the iPhone..

    As with a lot of social media and new technologies, the whole point is to show prospective seller’s that you are proactive in keeping up with where the buyers are.

    HR firms and big business use FaceBook , Myspace, Google etc to research job applicants. Don’t for one minute think that the public won’t do the same in looking to hire an agent to manage the sale of their property.

    A seller speaks to three agents for an appraisal. All three are personable, have similar thoughts on your property and their appraisals are comparable. Only one agent is all over the technology and is easy to find on the internet.

    Which one would you choose?

  4. Peter Fletcher January 29, 2010 at 10:10 am #

    You’re spot on Charlie. The most engaged users on Facebook are those that access the site on a mobile phone. Twitter was designed from the start for mobiles. Foursquare – designed for Androids and iPhones. Yelp – going the same way. The list gets bigger by the day. Those agents getting on the mobile bandwagon today will gain a significant and lasting competitive advantage.

  5. Aryan January 29, 2010 at 12:24 pm #

    I don’t disagree with the stats mobile traffic is growing

    But I don’t think that it will drive any sales yet.

    It would be interesting to know how many of the home buyers actually saw the property on a phone

  6. Harry Bozin February 2, 2010 at 11:35 am #

    Charlie I agree with your comments, mobiles are delivering immediate access to businesses wanting to provide their customers with a competitive advantage in the market.

  7. Mobile Mojo May 19, 2010 at 1:04 pm #

    The Australian consumer is very actively moving towards their mobile phone as the preferred means of getting online. With large screen devices like the HTC Desire, Xperia X10 and of course the iPhone very little is lost while transitioning from the PC to mobile. And tablets like the iPad further blur that distinction.

    The most successful apps in the property market will be the ones that layer location based services and other mobility solutions on top of standard real estate websites. Mere re-purposing of computer based websites will not be good enough.

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