Technology Solutions

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 thereafter.

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.

Mobile Choices

By focusing on the practical nature of mobile technology, you can make changes to improve your mobile reach to colleagues, clients, and potential clients.

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.

Todd A. Kuhlmann, CCIM

Todd A. Kuhlmann, CCIM, is President/ Founder of TheAnalyst PRO, a CRE Tech, Inc. company in Austin, Tex. Contact him at todd@TheAnalystPRO.com.

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