Technology Solutions

Smartphone Showdown

The Apple iPhone has a definite cool factor among design professionals, but is there enough substance behind the style to get business professionals to give up their BlackBerrys? Perhaps. The introduction of the faster iPhone 3G gives business users the option to play with the same high-tech toys as the designers. But with BlackBerry’s newest phone, the Storm, the iPhone now has some strong competition.

The Apple iPhone

Along with offering a faster cell network, the iPhone 3G also syncs with Microsoft Outlook’s e-mail, calendar, and contacts through the Microsoft Exchange Server. Along with features such as a global positioning system, Wi-Fi, a 2.0 megapixel digital camera, Bluetooth, music, and video capabilities, the iPhone’s App Store also offers business-friendly applications. Those noted below have been recommended by commercial real estate professionals online at eCRE systems’ Sibdu Blog at blog.sibdu.com/?p=180.

The Evernote application keeps track of contacts and colleagues on the road, scanning business cards and sending information to the user’s desktop. Puluwai and Terabitz are both mobile real estate search engine applications geared toward residential real estate agents, although Terabitz does offer multifamily and commercial search options. Yelp, another search engine application users can add to their iPhone, is a fast way to find places to meet with clients.

The Nearby application helps with planning a city tour for out-of-town clients while Platial, a social mapping application, creates personal maps of properties and other landmarks. The Sketches application acts like a notepad, letting users create hand-drawn sketches and notes. Users can mark up and add arrows or notes to property shots and e-mail them to clients and colleagues.

The BlackBerry Storm

Like the iPhone, the BlackBerry Storm also has a touch screen but users must press down on it, which prevents mistaken selections or careless swipes. In addition, users can type in the portrait or the larger landscape format. Although it doesn’t have a Wi-Fi connection, the Storm has many of the same features as the iPhone: 3G capability, GPS, quick access to e-mail and Web sites, a 3.2 megapixel camera, Bluetooth, music, and video capabilities.

Even though the Storm doesn’t have an open platform to allow the creation of specific applications, it does have some real-estate specific features. Some brokerage companies have set up systems to automate leads, which can be e-mailed directly to the device. For residential and commercial brokers, the Supra eKEY service enables users to receive real-time showing notifications as well as listing keys from their iBoxes (interactive lockboxes placed at properties). The eData Mobile application lets brokers search residential listing services, configure a market area directly from their phone, and connect to Google maps.

Which Smartphone Has What?

Features BlackBerry Storm Apple iPhone
$199.99 for a
two-year contract, www.blackberry.com
$199 for 8GB with
a two-year contract, www.apple.com/iphone
High-resolution touch screen x x
Wi-Fi capability x
Bluetooth x x
Video-recording capabilities x
Removable battery x
Online application store Will be available
this year
x
Wireless synchronization Only from corporate servers x
Voice dialing x
Microsoft Office editing capabilities x Can only read documents

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