The Mobile Crossover
Welcome to 2014, the year of the mobile crossover! For the
last six years, analysts have predicted that in 2014 more people will access
the Internet using a mobile device than using a desktop device, and estimates
are showing that mobile data usage will continue to double each year
The sales of desktop computers and notebooks were
forecast to decline 7.6 percent in 2013, according to Gartner, while worldwide
tablet shipments were expected to increase almost 70 percent. The computer war
among hardware manufacturers has shifted to mobile devices, and the focus on
mobile devices will continue to accelerate for manufacturers.
Americans, on average, spend 2.7 hours per day on our
mobile devices, which is twice the amount of time we spend eating. With people
spending more time on their mobile devices than ever before, it is important to
understand how they are using these devices in order to tailor your company’s
marketing approach to mobile users.
By focusing on the practical nature of mobile technology,
you can make changes to improve your mobile reach to colleagues, clients, and
Responsive Web Design. Most people realize that Flash websites are out and HTML5
websites are in. Responsive Web design, which uses HTML5, can optimize viewing
for a desktop, smartphone, or tablet device. Web developers program the website
to determine what device it is being viewed on, allowing your website to
respond to that device by providing easy reading and navigation on a mobile device.
At a minimum, commercial real estate practitioners should work with their web
developer to implement a responsive design for mobile devices.
Web Apps. Web-based mobile applications are designed to run on
mobile devices through an Internet web browser. There is much debate on the
usefulness of web apps. Companies that choose to use a web app for marketing
have lower costs than a native app, quick production time (basically building
an HTML website), and easy changes to the design and content. Disadvantages
include lack of ability to take full advantage of the built-in mobile device
functions such as the camera or GPS, design limitations, and lack of intuitive
functions that users have become accustomed to in native applications. For a
majority of commercial real estate practitioners, a responsive website would be
a suitable substitute for a separate web app as the functionality will be
relatively the same.
Native Apps. The ultimate in mobile functionality, a native
application is programmed for the operating system language of the hardware
device. The most common language platforms are iOS by Apple and Android by
Google. Because the native app is programmed specifically for the hardware
device, it is able to use the full functionality of the device, such as
conducting a property search on an interactive map or taking a picture of a
property and instantly sending it to a specified agent. Native apps are built
to be intuitive, using the device buttons and commands to quickly complete
tasks within the app. The functionality is great, but users need to be able to
find the app. Native apps are available through Apple App or Google Play
stores, where they are physically downloaded to a mobile device so that users
can quickly access it with a tap of the screen.
Analytical research has also found
that users spend more time with a native mobile app, and more importantly, time
users spend in native mobile apps has been increasing by 35 percent or more
versus a consistent decline for time user spend in Web applications. The
disadvantages are is that custom designing your own native application from
scratch can be time-consuming and expensive, and ongoing maintenance updates
are required to keep up with evolving platforms and hardware.
Mobile applications have changed the way commercial real
estate practitioners do business. No longer confined to our wired desktop
computers, mobile apps have allowed us to become much more efficient in our
analysis, research, marketing, and presentations.
Todd A. Kuhlmann, CCIM, is CEO/president of CRE Tech, a mobile app
developer and creator of TheAnalyst app. Contact him at http://theanaly.st.