Airbnb Updates Mobile Web Experience To Court More Users On Their Smartphones

Ryan Lawler:

Global hospitality startup Airbnb is launching a major update to its mobile web experience today in an effort to reach more users accessing the site on their smartphones. The update not only will make the mobile site more attractive and usable for potential guests, but will also make future development easier as Airbnb moves to more responsive design.
 With the update, Airbnb is hoping to improve the user experience for what is today a small but growing number of users. The company says that about 20 percent of its web traffic today comes from mobile devices, but that will no doubt increase as more users become comfortable with not just browsing but also booking reservations on their mobile devices.
 Airbnb has mobile apps many existing guests are familiar with for that use case. But for those who aren’t already Airbnb users, the update will provide a better introduction to its marketplace of places to stay. It will also provide a more consistent experience for those who later re-visit the site or book a stay through their desktop browser.
 To that end, one of the main focuses for Airbnb has been on cleaning up the presentation of its homepage for mobile users. It’s done this by scrapping the utilitarian search function that existed there before and instead introducing more attractive, full-bleed images to invite users to browse listings while also highlighting potential destinations.

Mobile’s Rise Poses a Riddle for Banks

Daniel Huang:

A waitress from Queens, N.Y., Ethel Bueno represents the promise—and the pitfalls—of a recent surge in the popularity of mobile banking.

The 23-year-old keeps her phone close at all times, and frequently logs on to her Capital One bank account to check her balance and make sure charges go through correctly. “It’s made my life easier,” she says.

But for bigger and more-complex transactions, which often require fees, Ms. Bueno prefers to visit a bank teller in person. That means her digital devotion to the bank doesn’t actually generate much revenue, a puzzle firms across the industry still are trying to solve.

This year, for the first time, U.S. customers interacted with their banks more through mobile devices than any other means, according to a new study by consultancy Bain & Co. Mobile interactions are now 35% of the total, more than any other type, including traditional online channels, automated-teller machines and branch visits, the report showed.

The report, to be distributed Friday, highlights a major shift in how banks engage with their customers—one that the firms hope will help them build loyalty among some of their most valued clients.

Snapchat CEO Says Facebook Will Implode

Nicholas Carlson:

He believes Facebook’s ad revenues are also overdependent on venture-backed startups buying traffic and users. Only instead of buying links on the Yahoo homepage, they’re buying app install ads.
 Spiegel thinks that if venture-capital funding for startups dries up — and he believes it might, when the Fed stops printing money and inflating public tech stocks — Facebook will suddenly, and violently, shrink.
 “Facebook has continued to perform in the market despite declining user engagement and pullback of brand advertising dollars — largely due to mobile advertising performance, especially app install advertisements,” he writes.
 “This is a huge red flag because it indicates that sustainable brand dollars have not yet moved to Facebook mobile platform and mobile revenue growth has been driven by technology companies (many of which are VC funded).


Different Relationships with their Phones: iPhone versus Android

Mark Sigal:

Case in point, in the new app that we are building, one question in user testing was how important having a desktop web version of the functionality would be.
 Get this, 90% of the Android users thought it was pretty important, most commonly because the test user saw the PC as the central part of their computing experience — even though the app is for a highly mobile type of action.
 By contrast, 90% of the iPhone users looked cockeyed at the question, noting that the action is designed for palm in the hand, on the go types of behaviors, adding (I’m paraphrasing) that their iPhone is their hub, not the PC.
 Same questions. Same product feature for feature; a variety of young to middle age males and females, and the only difference is iPhone versus Android.

On leadership and opportunities

Steve Sinofsky:

@stevesi: Once a leader misses a big opportunity, ppl often ask about comeback. The relevant question is will a new leader miss next big opportunity?

EXCLUSIVE The Hole in Google’s Mobile Strategy

Amir Efrati:

Google has a mobile problem, and it goes beyond the fact that people are searching differently on phones than on computers.
 Fast-growing smartphone apps from Snapchat to Yik Yak are being born every day, occupying bigger slices of people’s time. Google hasn’t built or acquired any of them other than navigation app Waze, which the company bought mainly to get off the market, according to people involved in the deal.
 More is at stake with these apps than buzz. Mobile apps are the new honey pots for digital ads, especially native or video ads that require people to spend time within an app.

Google admits that advertisers wasted their money on more than half of internet ads

Zach Wener-Fligner :

Online advertising is a fickle thing. It accounts for 20% of the ad industry’s total spending, and over 90% of revenue for the internet giants Google and Facebook. That said, no one seems to have any idea whether it actually works.
 That uncertainty reached a new high this week, as Google announced that 56.1% of ads served on the internet are never even “in view”—defined as being on screen for one second or more. That’s a huge number of “impressions” that cost money for advertisers, but are as pointless as a television playing to an empty room.
 This is not a big revelation. The web metrics company ComScore reported last year that 46% of online ads are never seen., an ad fraud company acquired by Google in February, has pointed out that a large portion of ads are “viewed” only by robots, revealing that one botnet of 120,000 virus-infected computers viewed ads billions of times, running up the tab for advertisers without offering them the human eyeballs they sought.

“Ubering” Your Brokerage’s Value Equation

I have long used a certain car service when visiting a large American City. They generally offer timely and professional service at a fair price with occasional promotions.

I found it interesting that my recent driver, the son of a long time chauffeur, sported the Uber app on a dashboard mounted new iPhone 5S (see photo below).

Note the prominent placement of Über’s iPhone app (top left). The current service that I used offers nothing like it (they have a phone number, not great website and a terrible app that is simply a website wrapped in an app – yesterday’s news).

I asked him about this during our drive to an airport.

His response (listen brokers):

“Uber paid me $500.00 to try the iPhone and their app for a month.”

I asked him about their terms:

“$10/week” to participate and 20% of the ride revenue. I only do surge pricing. Their short runs for $10 to 15 are not worth it with traffic. They pay weekly, every Tuesday into my account.” “Their app works very well.”

What’s in it for Uber?

1. They are obviously targeting existing and successful drivers. They are also leaving current services in the dust from a customer and driver experience perspective (think about your agents and the broker/agent value equation).

2. Uber collects data. That prominently mounted iPhone with the Uber app knows who the driver is, his schedule and routes. It can obviously compare Uber and non Uber routes. Consider agent routes to listing and buyer appointments.

3. Uber has a relationship with a competitor’s driver assets. It’s rather deep and includes a financial account, active app, tracking and some customer (leads) data.

That iPhone running the Uber app is on the drivers dashboard and with him constantly.

Note that some apps harvest contact data (iPhone/iPad requires the user to agree. Think about where your agents’ contacts are……)

4. This Uber relationship is an opening for other driver and client services, largely due to a superior app experience for all.

Let’s apply this inevitable model to real estate brokers. Why do I say inevitable?

A. Wireless networks grow faster and better daily.

B. iPhone offers new sensors, a vastly superior software environment and the best apps. That Uber uses it as an inducement is unsurprising.

C. Others will certainly see what Uber is up to and adopt this strategy.

An “over the top” app service provider that tracks and interacts with successful agents….

What to do?

Brokers must decide where their value equation lives in the new, mobile world. Simply repurposing now 20 year old web technology into a mobile site, as Michael Saunders recently announced is not competitive and has obvious brand issues. Note, Inman is once again behind the curve, particularly when promoting brokers who have stuffed websites into “apps”.

That strategy – sticking with 20 year old www tools in the new, mobile era & spending on yesterday, is identical to the big city car service being “ubered”


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Once Again, iPhone Owners Outspend Android Users (4X) on Black Friday

Ina Fried:

With the holiday shopping numbers continuing to filter in, one of the consistent trends is that mobile spending on iPhones continues to outpace that done on Android.
 Adobe, for example, found that iOS users drove four times as much mobile sales revenue as did those on Android devices.
 It’s not exactly a shocker, but it provides continuing evidence why developers of commerce apps continue to focus on iOS even as Android’s market share climbs.
 Apple is counting on this trend, and other favorable demographics in its user base, to help sustain developer attention to its platform even as Android becomes the dominant mobile operating system globally. Worldwide, Android already accounts for four in five smartphone sales and that share is predicted to grow.

User Experience Changes: Under Pressure From Uber, Taxi Medallion Prices are Plummeting

Josh Barro:

In major cities throughout the United States, taxi medallion prices are tumbling as taxis face competition from car-service apps like Uber and Lyft.
 The average price of an individual New York City taxi medallion fell to $872,000 in October, down 17 percent from a peak reached in the spring of 2013, according to an analysis of sales data. Previous figures published by the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission — showing flat prices — appear to have been incorrect, and the commission removed them from its website after an inquiry from The New York Times.
 In other big cities, medallion prices are also falling, often in conjunction with a sharp decline in sales volume. In Chicago, prices are down 17 percent. In Boston, they’re down at least 20 percent, though it’s hard to establish an exact market price because there have been only five trades since July. In Philadelphia, the taxi authority recently failed to sell any medallions at its asking price of $475,000; it will try again, at $350,000.