“55 percent of Chinese consumers said they expected their phone to be the main way they made purchases in the future, versus 29 percent globally”

Christina Larson:

With these new mobile payment technologies, China has leapfrogged both checkbooks and desktop banking. Jane Yang, for example, went straight from paying rent in cash to paying via Alipay. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, 79 percent of Chinese consumers surveyed said they were happy to receive coupons via their mobile devices, versus just 53 percent globally. And 55 percent of Chinese consumers said they expected their phone to be the main way they made purchases in the future, versus 29 percent globally.

This is a remarkable turnaround for a country that for years seemed to be stuck in a far earlier, low-tech era of consumer financial services. “The banks did nothing to make customer service easy,” says Cavender, who notes that for many years paying a credit card bill required standing in line at a bank. It could not be done through the mail or online. Only those who had significant funds to invest and lived near large bank branches had easy access to wealth management options.

Has Technology Killed the Jewelry Industry?

Beejoli Shah:

I used to dream of taking over my dad’s jewelry business. I would spend summer vacations in his Los Angeles office taking orders, weighing sparkly loose diamonds no larger than specks of dust, oohing and aahing over cases of bejeweled rings the size of my nose as he prepared for sales trips, and often being reminded that if I wanted to be paid that week, for the last time, food was not allowed to be eaten on the diamond desk. This was back in the ’90s, and while some part of these fond memories can be chalked up to youthful revisionist history, it does seem—even now—like the phone never stopped ringing. There was always one more order to fill, always one more ring to be picked up from the setter to polish and send off to a nervous groom-to-be.
 
 A large part of the charm in ascending to the head of the family business was the glamour. Sure, some people’s parents might have corner offices in high-rise buildings, but spreadsheets never set anyone’s world on fire. But diamonds … everyone loves diamonds. Shah Jewel Inc. wasn’t just in the business of making sales; it was in the business of making memories, one fancy piece of jewelry at a time.

 

Niche Marketing Notes

Ben Thompson:

Think about a company like Facebook: true, there may be some Facebook-aholics who live in the service and would love if Facebook would just go crazy on the features, but serving those customers would endanger the right side of the curve – the people who are more take-it-or-leave-it. Ultimately, because Facebook monetizes through advertising, more eyeballs are more important than more intensive ones, so their product decisions are made with an eye towards appealing to as many people as possible. Of course Facebook doesn’t stop here – you can think of targeting as a way for them to make more money from some consumers than from others. Still, the goal is more users, not fewer.
 
 A site like mine, on the other hand, or any number of niche-focused sites and services, is much more concerned with people on the left-side of the curve. We don’t want pennies from millions, but tens or hundreds of dollars from thousands. This, though, means that our motivations when it comes to our product are far different: if we appeal to everyone, we are necessarily loved by no one.

 
 

Verizon’s Mobile ‘Supercookies’ Seen as Threat to Privacy

Natalie Singer & Brian Chen:

others use its header,” Mr. Mayer said. “There’s no doubt that this particular approach does introduce new privacy problems.”
 
 Websites, digital advertising networks and online analytics services have for years placed bits of code in people’s browsers to follow their online activities and show them advertising tailored to their interests. Verizon uses its customer tags to put subscribers into advertising categories, among other things.
 
 In a recent interview, Praveen Atreya, a Verizon technology director who helped develop the technology behind the mobile marketing program, said the company’s unique header was not intended for use by other companies to remember its subscribers or recover information about them.
 
 Indeed, after a report on the practice by ProPublica, Turn announced it would suspend its use of Verizon’s ID codes to regenerate tracking cookies and reconsider its use of the technique.
 
 “We feel this practice is legal,” Max Ochoa, Turn’s chief privacy officer, said in a phone interview. “But given people’s concerns, as soon as we get the new codes rolled out, we will suspend this practice.”

 
 

Why most market resea”Consumers didn’t really know what they wanted until they could get it.”

James Surowiecki:

As Darren Tristano, an analyst at Technomic, put it, “Consumers didn’t really know what they wanted until they could get it.” The archetype of this model is Starbucks. In 1990, the idea of spending two dollars for a cup of coffee seemed absurd to most Americans. But Starbucks changed people’s idea of what coffee tasted like and how much enjoyment could be got from it. The number of gourmet-coffee drinkers nearly quintupled between 1993 and 1999, and many of them have now abandoned Starbucks for even fancier options.

Related: the “experience revolution”.

Generation Y Prefers Suburban Home Over City Condo

Kris Hudson:

One of the hottest debates among housing economists these days isn’t the trajectory of home sales, but whether millennials, those born in the 1980s and 1990s, want to remain urbanites or eventually relocate to the suburbs.
 
 Some demographers and economists argue that the preference of millennials, also called Generation Y, for city living will remain long lasting. And surveys of these young urban residents have tended to show that they don’t mind small living quarters as long as they have access to mass transit and are close to entertainment, dining and their workplaces.
 
 But a survey released Wednesday by the National Association of Home Builders, a trade group, suggested otherwise. The survey, based on responses from 1,506 people born since 1977, found that most want to live in single-family homes outside of the urban center, even if they now reside in the city.

 

Millennials Set to Outnumber Baby Boomers

Douglas Quenqua:

75 is the approximate number, in millions, of millennials that the United States will have this year. The total of millennials — those born from 1981 to 1997 — will reach 75.3 million, overtaking baby boomers (1946 to 1964) as the United States’ largest living generation.
 
 How does a generation that has stopped enrolling members manage to keep growing? An influx of immigrants, according to a new report from the Pew Research Center. And, of course, members of the boomer generation, currently at 74.9 million, are beginning to die in greater numbers.
 
 But deciding who belongs to which generation is neither an exact science nor a settled debate. While demographers long ago agreed on the dates defining the baby boom, many young people now considered millennials could one day be reclassified into the following generation (whatever we decide to call it).

Manager Tip 2 10X: Recruiting and Retention in the New Tech Landscape

  1. What does the emerging tech landscape mean for agents?
  2. Are agents, managers and brokers investing their time and money in the past or the future?
  3. Where can managers and brokers add value to agents – effectively?
  4. Does everyone need a CRM? If so, what is a CRM? What makes it effective?

i. The tech landscape:

a. Digital products are marketing. Digital experiences are marketing.
“by 2017 chief marketing officers will spend more on IT than their CIOs”The Economist.

b. Google’s Core Search Business is tied to the new declining PC-era – John Naughton. Consider the effectiveness and utility of SEO and keyword advertising spending. “SEO is a PC first strategy in a mobile first world” – Ben Thompson.

c. A Teenager’s View on Social Media – Andrew Watt.

d. Resetting the Score: A Primer on Technology Change by Benedict Evans:

The iPhone was the first time that personal computing got reset to zero since, well, ever, arguably. The result for Microsoft, which dominated the PC era but which unlike the Royal Navy missed the big shift, was a total change in its market position.

Yet, nearly all real estate technology is built for the now declining PC era.

e. The sea changes Evans mentions drive our mobile first public and Agent App strategy. New platforms for the new world. This is a very different strategy than other vendors, who are attempting to repurpose their old software, a failed strategy across tech changes.

f. Google won’t fix bug hitting 60 percent of Android phones – Peter Bright and Thomas Fox-Brewster:

Google’s position is complicated, because it has produced a platform that it has no power to update. There’s no Windows Update for Android phones, and Google has no ability to push out updates to the operating system; it has to depend on a range of OEMs and network operators to adopt its source code changes and distribute them to users. Both Apple and Microsoft, in contrast, have a direct channel to update their mobile operating systems.

g. Tablet users will top 1 billion before growth slows – Peter Baras. An executive at a new client recently told his agents that laptops are dinosaurs. He’s right. Smartphones and tablets are the focus of innovation and new software development.

h. The Most Innovative Companies Have Long Term Leadership – Maxwell Wessel. This is obvious in real estate.

i. 75% of Americans have Smartphones – Asymco. Apple dominated Christmas, 2014 – Jarah Euston.

j. We are living in an Uber and airbnb experience world.

ii. Investing for the future?

The Economist article (a, above) on digital experiences and marketing is worth considering when evaluating brokerage company dollar spending.

A simple company dollar pie chart tells the story.

iii. Where can managers and brokers add value to agents – effectively?

a. Some agents – not all – sense that we are in a mobile first world. Managers can help them understand the tools available and the buyer / seller landscape.

For example, the vast majority of Facebook’s activity is mobile. The utility of a listing web link is much lower than a real app share to Facebook or Twitter.

b. Devices. An agent walked up to me at a recent client sales meeting with a one day old LG “phablet” (large smartphone). The device would not properly run apps from the Google Play store. I suggested that she immediately return it for one that works or an iPhone. Another agent’s Samsung Galaxy S4’s browser displayed jumpy web pages.

It is very important to understand that a Google Android device on one carrier is not the same on another. Further, non Google Android is the fastest growing variant. We’ve also seen various Android devices that do not support javascript, a basic web function.

Agents and managers should completely understand what they are buying and be cautious about being sold a bill of goods by a cell phone salesperson.

c. Connectivity. Uber offers a new iPhone and data services to prospective drivers. This type of recruiting and retention offer will likely be attractive to agents. Brokerages can cut much better deals collectively, than agents might individually. I recognize the potential accounting issues, but this is the landscape that we operate in. Great cellular connectivity is more important than office wifi. I’ve seen a number of agents use personal cell services in the office for reliability purposes.

d. Coaching. A management consultant friend recently mentioned that former GE CEO Jack Welch assigned a technology assistant to each executive as part of his business transformation process. Indeed, if one does not understand the new world (part i above), it is difficult to re-imagine business processes and create new opportunities.

The recruiting and retention opportunities today are 10x those in the mid 1990s.

iv. CRM. Need it? What makes it effective?

a. Should agents, managers and brokers manage and leverage their contacts? Certainly.

b. Can brokerages add great value to agents’ contacts? Absolutely. Think automated searches with personal branding, market trends & statistics, birthday and anniversary greetings, enewsletters, seasonal reminders, and interactive CMA and sports schedules among others.

Automated, of course via our Main Street cloud CRM services.

c. Simple. Agents are most likely to maintain their contacts on their smartphones and iPads. Unfortunately, nearly all real estate CRM systems were created for the PC era, which means that it is difficult for agents to maintain their contacts, particularly when they are using social networking apps such as linked in, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and others.

Remember, App time now exceeds all www time.

Virtual Properties’ new agent app automatically syncs cloud CRM contacts with the local address book and supports bulk import with duplicate check (iPhone and iPad). This makes it trivial to add contacts harvested from other apps to the brokerage CRM.

d. Leads to closings. One client automatically added 35K contacts to their transactions last year. No other system has this level of integration, from apps, websites, intranet, documents, core services and transactions/closings.

So, yes, CRM has a large role in the modern brokerage. But, it must be used strategically and not as yet another data island.

Mobile and an everywhere CRM. Call for details: 1 608 468 6013 or email jim@vp.io

The Road Ahead

Mark Sigal:

9-GearsThe road ahead is finally becoming clear.
 
 From the moment the web entered our conciousness, to when it became evident that the newspaper business was going to die, the writing was on the wall.
 
 Blood in the streets was to be the new normal, and certain types of companies would seemingly collapse overnight.
 
 One moral of the story was that in the connected age that which can be commoditized would be commoditized.
 
 The realization of this truth has been painful, though. It’s taken over a decade to play out. A lot of jobs have been destroyed. Many more have seen their earning power squeezed.
 
 The shift from a W2-driven Model to a 1099-driven one is emblematic, rendering both economic and psycho-social impact.
 
 With so much change and so many worker bees suddenly cast into entreprenurship, necessity became the mother of invention, yielding LOTs of innovation and invention.

“by 2017 chief marketing officers will spend more on IT than their CIOs”

The Economist:

Other analysts imagine a more pessimistic scenario: IBM is increasingly held back by its legacy business; it becomes less profitable because cloud services offer lower margins than the more customised IT services IBM is used to providing; and it steadily loses customers to newcomers, such as Amazon’s cloud-computing arm.
 
 If this starts to look like it is happening, pressure will mount for Ginni Rometty, IBM’s boss, to take more radical action. It is unlikely that the firm will break itself up, as its rival HP has decided to do: IBM’s businesses feed too much on each other. But it could be forced to separate its old from its new businesses more clearly. Many of its clients are going for “two-speed IT”, in which they separate their faster-moving and more innovative IT needs (data-crunching, say) from more basic services (payroll processing, for instance). To keep them, IBM may need to do the same.

Google searches for a way to avoid Microsoft’s fate

John Naughton:

The news that Google’s share of the web-search market in the US has suddenly dropped is interesting. According to an independent analytics firm, StatCounter, last month Google’s market share dropped to 75.2%, compared with 79.3% a year earlier. That is its lowest share since 2008, when StatCounter started tracking the data. Yahoo, by contrast, seems to be on the up: its December market share (10.4%) was the highest it has achieved since 2009.
 
 This could be just a blip, of course, and it doesn’t change the fact that Google is still the dominant player in search or that its share of the European search market ranges between 90% and 96%, depending on which country you look at. So this is not the time to start selling your Google shares, but it does make one look at the company through a different lens. What if the dominance of its core business were beginning to wane?

The Blockchain: What It Is and Why It Matters

Mohit Kaushal and Sheel Tyle:

Chances are that you’ve heard of bitcoin, the digital currency that many predict will revolutionize payments – or prove to be a massive fraud – depending on what you read. Bitcoin is an application that runs on the Blockchain, which is ultimately a more interesting and profound innovation.
 
 The Blockchain is a secure transaction ledger database that is shared by all parties participating in an established, distributed network of computers. It records and stores every transaction that occurs in the network, essentially eliminating the need for “trusted” third parties such as payment processors. Blockchain proponents often describe the innovation as a “transfer of trust in a trustless world,” referring to the fact that the entities participating in a transaction are not necessarily known to each other yet they exchange value with surety and no third-party validation. For this reason, the Blockchain is a potential game changer.
 
 In 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous person or group of people credited with developing bitcoin, released a whitepaper describing the software protocol. Since then, the network has grown and bitcoin

A Teenager’s View on Social Media

Andrew Watt:

I read technology articles quite often and see plenty of authors attempt to dissect or describe the teenage audience, especially in regards to social media. However, I have yet to see a teenager contribute their voice to this discussion. This is where I would like to provide my own humble opinion.

For transparency, I am a 19-year-old male attending The University of Texas at Austin. I am extremely interested in social media’s role in our society as well as how it is currently evolving. Thus, the views I provide here are my own, but do stem from observation of not only my own habits but my peers’ habits as well.

This article will not use any studies, data, sources, etc. This is because you can easily get that from any other technology news website and analyze from there. I’m here to provide a different view based off of my life in this “highly coveted” age bracket. That being said, I’m not an expert at this by a long shot and I’m sure there will be data that disproves some of the points I make, but this is just what I’ve noticed.

I think the best way to approach this would be to break it down by social media network and the observations/viewpoints I’ve gathered over the years.

Manager Tip 1: Presenting with an iPhone or iPad

The new Agent App is ideal for managers, from recruiting and retention sessions to sales training tips and interactive office meetings.

These tips can also be used by agents when hosting open houses.

My suggested presentation configurations follow below.

A. Big screen with an HDMI input.

The best solution for a big screen is to purchase an Apple TV ($99.00) with an HDMI cable.

Setup

  1. Connect the Apple TV to your big screen. Turn the big screen on and set its input to your Apple TV’s HDMI cable. You should seen an active Apple TV Screen.

  2. Add the Apple TV to your wifi network (I turn on my iPad’s hotspot, which makes my setup portable).
  3. Use Airplay on your iPhone or iPad and mirror your device to the big screen.
  4. Begin your presentation.

B. Projector with a cable, typically VGA, tethered to your iPhone or iPad.

Your iPad or iPhone can connect directly to a projector using a cable. There are a variety of types, from VGA to Digital AV.

The downside of a cable connection is the lack of mobility. But, it works.

C. Projector with a cable, typically VGA, connected to a PC or Mac computer.

Projectors will often be connected to a traditional computer via a VGA cable. It is possible to display your iPad or iPhone’s screen on that PC or Mac, and “reflect” it to the projector.

The PC or Mac and your iPhone/iPad should be on the same wireless network. You’ll need a bit of software named “Reflector“. Connect your iPhone/iPad to the PC or Mac using Airplay (Get started tips). I’ve found this to work well on a mac and my iPhone. The PC installation tips note that you may need to configure the Windows firewall. Be mindful of that potential requirement.

D. At a client’s home, typically an Open House or a Listing Presentation.

An Apple TV that uses your iPad or iPhone’s hotspot is ideal for this scenario. See tips for “A” above.

Should you have questions, please do not hesitate to email jim@vp.io or dial +1 608 468 6013.

In closing, office meetings are ideal for the Agent App. Simply display the App’s map with recent agent activity (map search, refine using list or sold date). Let your agents share their activity interactively.

Where Cellular Networks Don’t Exist, People Are Building Their Own

Lizzie Wade:

Inside the cloud that is perpetually draped over the small town of San Juan Yaee, Oaxaca, Raúl Hernández Santiago crouches down on the roof of the town hall and starts drilling. Men wearing rain gear of various impermeabilities cluster above him, holding a 4-meter-tall tower in place. Braided wires trail from four small circles welded near its midpoint; eventually those will be bolted or tied down in order to hold the tower steady during the frequent storms that roll through this part of Mexico’s Sierra de Juárez mountains. They don’t want it falling over every time it rains. Ninety thousand of the town’s pesos—a bit over $6,000—are invested in the equipment lashed to the top of the tower, in a town where many residents get by on subsistence agriculture.
 
 The tower—which Hernández, Yaee’s blacksmith, welded together out of scrap metal just a few hours earlier—is the backbone of Yaee’s first cellular network. The 90,000 pesos come in the form of two antennas and an open-source base station from a Canadian company called NuRAN. Once Hernández and company get the tower installed and the network online, Yaee’s 500 citizens will, for the first time, be able to make cell phone calls from home, and for cheaper rates than almost anywhere else in Mexico.

Resetting the score: A Primer on Technology Change

Benedict Evans:

The iPhone was the first time that personal computing got reset to zero since, well, ever, arguably. The result for Microsoft, which dominated the PC era but which unlike the Royal Navy missed the big shift, was a total change in its market position.

Google won’t fix bug hitting 60 percent of Android phones

Peter Bright:

This difficulty has not prevented Google from developing updates in the past; in April of last year, it developed a fix for Android 4.1.1 to fix the Heartbleed flaw. OEM availability of that update may have been limited, but at least the option existed. For the WebView problems, it does not.
 
 In principle, most phones running Android 4.3 or below could receive major updates to 4.4 or even 5.0, and eliminate the bug in that manner. This, however, ignores the practice that OEMs are frequently unwilling to make this kind of major update; given what we know of smartphone manufacturers, expecting them to pick up the very newest version just to get security fixes isn’t at all realistic. The OEM position is understandable. A manufacturer shipping a customized version of Android 4.3 on a phone will generally find it much easier to update that custom version to a newer 4.3 patch level than it will to update to Android 4.4 or 5.0. The changes are smaller, and the work required is lesser.
 
 Google’s position is complicated, because it has produced a platform that it has no power to update. There’s no Windows Update for Android phones, and Google has no ability to push out updates to the operating system; it has to depend on a range of OEMs and network operators to adopt its source code changes and distribute them to users. Both Apple and Microsoft, in contrast, have a direct channel to update their mobile operating systems.
 
 What Google can update is apps, through the Play Store infrastructure. With each new release of Android, Google has pushed more functionality into packages such as Google Play Services and Google Play Store that run on top of the core Android OS. These packages are updated and maintained through the Play Store system, and in Android 5, this includes the WebView control. So going forward, this component can be updated—though the same problem will remain for those portions that remain as part of the core open source Android OS. Android 5.0 is, incidentally, currently in use by less than 0.1 percent of Android users, by Google’s own estimates.
 
 

60% of Android Devices No Longer Updated….

:

As of January 5, 2015, the current release, Lollipop, is less than 0.1% of the installed market, according to Google’s Android Developer Dashboard. It’s not even on the board yet.
 
 The next most recent release, KitKat, represents about two fifths of the Android ecosystem. This leaves the remaining 60% or so as “legacy” and out of support for security patches from Google. In terms of solid numbers, it would appear that over 930 million Android phones are now out of official Google security patch support, given the published Gartner and WSJ numbers on smartphone distribution).
 
 The Economics of Upgrading
 Beside the installed bases, I posit that the people who are currently exposed to pre-KitKat, pre-Chromium WebView vulnerabilities are exactly those users who are most likely to not be able to “update to the latest version of Android” to get security patches. The latest Google Nexus retails for about USD$660, while the first hit for an “Android Phone” on Amazon retails for under $70. This is a nearly ten-fold price difference, which implies two very different user bases; one market that doesn’t mind dropping a few hundred dollars on a phone, and one which will not or cannot spend much more than $100.
 
 Taken together — the two-thirds majority install base of now-unsupported devices and the practical inability of that base to upgrade by replacing hardware — means that any new bug discovered in “legacy” Android is going to last as a mass-market exploit vector for a long, long time.
 

The power of story Across time and culture, stories have been agents of personal transformation – in part because they change our brains

Elizabeth Svoboda:

Elizabeth asked her fellow ninth-grader Megan Stewart to help her with her project, and during her free time, Megan pored over the story of Irena Sendler. She learned about how this unassuming young Polish nurse had created thousands of false identity papers to smuggle Jewish children out of the ghetto. To sneak the children past Nazi guards, Sendler hid them under piles of potatoes and loaded them into gunny sacks. She also wrote out lists of the children’s names and buried them in jars, intending to dig them up again after the war so she could tell them their real identities.
 
 Imagining herself in the young nurse’s position, Megan could appreciate just how difficult her life-threatening choices must have been. She was so moved by Sendler’s gumption and selflessness that she, Elizabeth, and two other friends wrote a play about Sendler. They called it Life in a Jar and performed it at schools and theatres. As word got out, the students’ quest to share what Sendler had done appeared on CNN, NPR, and the Today Show. The power of Sendler’s story had turned the project into something much bigger than the girls expected.

Auto Dealership adjusts as traffic changes course Expanded Web and phone teams stay on top of leads

Jacyln Trop:

So management split the 28-person sales staff into two segments and four teams: two teams of five sales associates who help buyers in the showroom and two teams of nine associates specially trained to handle phone and Internet inquiries.
 
 To help decide who goes where, the dealership uses a computer-based test to gauge employees’ aptitude for certain tasks. The score indicates whether an associate is better suited for the showroom floor — where he or she must be ready to answer shoppers’ questions, analyze prospective buyers’ needs, be personable on a test drive and discuss numbers and financing professionally — or for the phone or Internet, which requires good phone manners and the organizational skills to stay on top of email chains that can stretch to 30 messages, Ardissone said.
 
 The result has been a smoother, more effective sales funnel for shoppers, who report better and more responsive service. “The biggest challenge was that we had individuals who wanted to do it all: answer the phone and take walk-in traffic,” Ardissone said.
 
 In 2014, the dealership’s total sales rose 4 percent to 3,826 vehicles, and most of the growth was due to Internet and phone leads. Those segments are accounting for a growing share of the dealership’s lead mix, according to numbers AutoNation Honda Roseville provided Automotive News, and producing better results because of the staff reassignments.

Slick, Useful Apps Put the Wow in Apple Watch

Christopher Mims:

Imagine walking into a grocery store with a shopping list on your watch, which knows your location so precisely that it can plot a route through the store, saving you the frustration of wandering from aisle to aisle, wondering where that one particular item is.
 
 Or imagine having all of Wikipedia in an app, one that unobtrusively alerts you to points of interest as you walk around a city.
 
 Both of these are examples of technology that’s already possible on your phone. But what matters for adoption of a technology isn’t what’s possible for the user—what matters is what’s easy.
 
 To use a historical analogy, the shift to mobile is one reason messaging supplanted email. Email was a product of a particular set of behaviors, including sitting down at a computer at a designated time and putting a certain amount of thought into responses. BlackBerry turned email into something like messaging, and touch-screen smartphones made it apparent that email was itself an anachronism, merely one conduit among many for what has become real-time communication.

Google Under Fire For Quietly Killing Critical Android Security Updates For Nearly One Billion

Thomas Fox-Brewster:

Android smartphone owners who aren’t running the latest version of their operating system might get some nasty surprises from malicious hackers in 2015. That’s because one of the core components of their phones won’t be getting any security updates from Google, the owner of the Android operating system. Without openly warning any of the 939 million affected, Google has decided to stop pushing out security updates for the WebView tool within Android to those on Android 4.3, better known as Jelly Bean, or below, according to appalled security researchers. That means two-thirds of users won’t receive cover from Google, the researchers no

Smartphones connect the next 2 Billion People

Tim Bajarin:

Another way to think of this is that smart phones or pocket computers connecting the next two billion people to the internet is similar to what the Gutenberg Press and the Bible were to the masses in the Middle Ages. Before the Gutenberg Press, knowledge and control of the people was in the hands of a select few who controlled the flow of information. As a result, they lorded it over the populace and made them beholden to the church or more educated authorities who ruled them. But once the Bible and other documents could be dispersed to a larger audience, those authoritarian rulers were challenged and eventually marginalized as more and more power went to the people over time.
 
 In this day and age, it is hard to believe this kind of controlled ruling still exists but all one has to do is look to North Korea as a modern day example. This hermit kingdom keeps knowledge from the people and lords their authority over them in oppressive ways and has fooled the people into thinking their leaders are gods. Imagine what would happen if hundreds of thousands of North Koreans get a smart phone and have broad access to information. In some countries where people cannot even read, the info would flow through video and even soap operas showing a narrative of the outside world.

Broker Strategy: Opportunity or Despair?

It is always a privilege to talk with agents.

The past few months have offered many opportunities as we’ve rolled out our new Agent App. For the most part, agents have been very positive, looking forward to a strong year in 2015 and making sure that they have the right technology at the right time.

For every 10 to 20 agents asking which iPad to buy, practicing the Agent App’s interactive CMA (50 seconds vs 50 clicks), using Airdrop to share documents or scheduling showings in the App, there is one stuck in despair.

This push and pull between the old an new is unsurprising. It always happens when major technology transitions occur. After all, the browser is now more than 20 years old.

Technology investments today are focused on two areas: apps for smartphones and tablets, lead by the iPhone and iPad and cloud automation services. The browser world, as the Wall Street Journal recently put it, is being killed by apps. (An aside, useful wearables are not far off, further cementing the app/cloud paradigm).

I make an effort to talk with agents who are engaged, but offer despair in their voice as they face a new transition. I ask if they are serious about the business? I ask about their recent production. I ask if they plan to be in real estate over the next five years.

Brokerage Opportunity

This transition, as I’ve mentioned before, is an enormous opportunity for forward thinking brokerage firms. One successful agent recently joined a client firm after spending a year at a franchise full of promises but little else. She joined due to the new technology stack, including the Agent App.

Harvest agents, while your competitors are lulled by the past.

One recent training session sharpened this point. A very successful younger team – women in their late 20’s – scoffed at an older agent’s interest in printing traditional CMA’s and contracts. They smirked and said “we use Airdrop“.

Indeed.

Yet, I’ve been in quite a few sessions where senior, successful agents are all over the new Agent App.

“I have to do this, my customers are ahead of me”, or “this is so much easier than my old MLS system”, or “No one wants to go through all of those steps”.

My favorite “When I can figure it out the first time, that’s a hell of a deal”.

“You mean to tell me that when I am in _______ neighborhood, one tap and I have all statuses around me? Yes.”

Brokers would seem to be well served offering simple and fast apps AND the sales training to make them fly.

We are happy to help with the right apps, cloud CRM and implementation.

P.S. Millenials are expected to enter the home buying market in 2016. This means apps.

Dial 1 608 468 6013 or email jim@vp.io to chat further.

Tablet Users Will Top 1 Billion Before Growth Slows

Pete Baras:

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) and other makers of tablet computers got some good and bad news Thursday with a new report saying that tablet users will top 1 billion worldwide by year’s end but that user growth will slow dramatically over the next three years.
 Nearly 15% of the world’s population will use tablet computers this year — more than double the percentage of users three years ago, says a report released Wednesday by market tracker eMarketer. In three years, the number of tablet users will reach 1.43 billion, up 35% from the 1.06 billion users expected by the end of 2015, says the report.

Student Loan Debt & Housing

Daniel Cooper and J. Christina Wang:

Overall, student loan debt lowers the likelihood of homeownership by age 30 or so for a group of individuals who attended college during the 1990s.
 There is a fairly strong negative correlation between student loan debt and wealth (especially if it is net of student loan debt) for a group of households with at least some college experience and the household head or spouse is 40 years old or younger.
 
 The negative effect of student loan debt on wealth holdings is more pronounced among homeowners than among renters.

Why Bureaucracy Must Die

Steve Denning:

Hamel gives us a vivid description.
 
 “Strategy gets set at the top. Power trickles down. Big leaders appoint little leaders. Individuals compete for promotion. Compensation correlates with rank. Tasks are assigned. Managers assess performance. Rules tightly circumscribe discretion.
 
 Bureaucracy “constitutes the operating system for virtually every large-scale organization on the planet. It is the unchallenged tenets of bureaucracy that disable our organizations.”
 
 Bureaucracy is “simple, and scalable” but “a profound liability” in today’s hyperkinetic environment. It “underweights new thinking and …perpetuates the past. It misallocates power.. It discourages dissent and breeds sycophants.” Bureaucracy is run top-down by “a small cadre of seasoned executives who fail to write off their depreciating intellectual capital.” It is akin to Soviet-style centralization and “is the enemy of resilience… If they are unwilling to adapt and learn, the entire organization stalls. “
 
 Bureaucracy is gripped by“the ideology of controlism” and “worships at the altar of conformance.” It’s hostile to “the irregular people with irregular ideas who create the irregular business models that generate the irregular returns,” and so “cripples organizational vitality.” It “shrinks our incentive to dream, imagine and contribute.” It causes our organizations to “remain incompetent at their core.”

The Future of Privacy

Lee Rainie & Jenna Anderson:

Theme 1) Living a public life is the new default. It is not possible to live modern life without revealing personal information to governments and corporations. Few individuals will have the energy, interest, or resources to protect themselves from ‘dataveillance’; privacy will become a ‘luxury.’
 
 Kate Crawford, a professor and research scientist, responded, “The last 10 years have given us a discouraging surfeit of evidence that companies will preference their ability to extract, sell, and trade data than establish simple, easy-to-use privacy protecting mechanisms. In the next 10 years, I would expect to see the development of more encryption technologies and boutique services for people prepared to pay a premium for greater control over their data. This is the creation of privacy as a luxury good. It also has the unfortunate effect of establishing a new divide: the privacy rich and the privacy poor. Whether genuine control over your information will be extended to the majority of people—and for free—seems very unlikely, without a much stronger policy commitment. Optimistically, people are better informed about how their data can be used to discriminate against them and demand greater security, privacy, and access to due process. Pessimistically, people may want those things, but they have no real power to get them.”

 

How a young entrepreneur built an empire by repackaging memes.

Andrew Marantz:

Their home pages, which can be chaotic and full of old links, don’t always feature a Spartz logo; traffic is generated almost entirely through Facebook, so brand recognition is relatively unimportant. Most of the company’s innovations concern not the content itself but how it is promoted and packaged: placing unusually large share buttons at the top and the bottom of posts; experimenting with which headlines and photographs would be more seductive; devising strategies for making posts show up prominently in Facebook’s news feed. “I keep hearing people around town talking about this young man as a Steve Jobs kind of guy,” Gary Holdren, one of Spartz’s chief investors, told me. “I think his stuff is indicative of where digital media is headed.”

The Most Innovative Companies Have Long-Term Leadership

Maxwell Wessel:

Staying power is vital for innovation. Consider the industry I call home, enterprise software. The typical enterprise software startup that IPOs is at least 7 years old (to say nothing of those that try and fail). Like most businesses, in the beginning it’s nothing more than an idea. But it’s an idea that demands attention, investment, and a long view of the market. Only with patience and perseverance will it flourish. And after these startups hit the public markets, they’re still generally too small for the average CEO of a Fortune 500 business to care about. In the year before Google IPO’d, it did about $962 million in revenue. The same year, Microsoft did $32.1 billion. Had Microsoft owned Google’s search engine at the time, it would have been an tiny piece of the revenue pie.
 
 Just 10 years later – the revenue Google derived from its advertisements was larger than the largest Microsoft business. How times change, right? And that’s the point.
 
 Tackling big audacious problems take time. It’s why venture investors and entrepreneurs tend to be committed for the long haul. Big ideas start small. Everything requires a foundation of results before it can expand. Sure, the distribution and brand that big companies bring to the mix can be useful in accelerating the pace of change, but innovation still requires long timelines. And the vast majority of public company executives don’t share those timelines.

Android Hardware Profits Tanked in 2014

Ina Fried:

While Android continued to gain market share in the global smartphone market, it saw a significant drop on another key metric: Profits.
 
 Analyst Chetan Sharma estimates that global profits in the Android hardware market for 2014 were down by half from the prior year — the first year that there has been any significant drop.
 
 A lot of that is due to the big drop in profits at Samsung, the largest player in the Android market. China’s Xiaomi gained significant market share, but is only modestly profitable thanks to its slim margins. Meanwhile, other players like Sony and Motorola lost money in their Android-based mobile businesses.
 
 That’s obviously of concern to the hardware companies, but it should also be worrisome for Google.

Apple and Apps Dominated Christmas 2014

Jarah Euston:

To put this in perspective, for every Samsung devices that was activated, Apple activated 2.9 devices. For every Microsoft Lumia device activated, Apple activated 8.8 devices. While, the holidays in general and Christmas in particular are not the sole indicator of the smartphone market share and trends, it is safe to say that Apple’s newly released iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have had a blockbuster holiday season, despite a lackluster holiday season for the consumer electronics industry.

Will Household Deleveraging End Anytime Soon?

William Emmons:

Given the almost continuous increase in the ratio of household liabilities to income observed between the early 1950s and 2008, as shown in the figure below, one might conclude that this ratio will resume its upward march at some point. Because disposable personal income can react sharply to changes in tax policies, which were significant during the recession and its aftermath, the figure below also displays the ratio of household liabilities to gross domestic product, which is not affected as much by tax changes. This ratio has declined in 19 of the last 21 quarters, including the third quarter.

IBM: Christmas online sales up 8.3%, iOS numbers nearly quadruple Android’s

Emil Protalinski:

Mobile traffic accounted for more than half (57.1 percent) of all online shopping traffic, up 18.6 percent over 2013. Furthermore, these visitors weren’t just browsing: Mobile sales made up over a third (34.8 percent) of total Christmas Day online sales, an increase of 20.4 percent year-over-year.
 
 As always in the U.S., iOS beat out Android in mobile shopping this Christmas. iOS users averaged $97.28 per order compared to $67.40 for Android users, a difference of 44.3 percent.
 
 iOS traffic accounted for 39.1 percent of total online traffic, more than double that of Android, which drove 17.7 percent of all online traffic. More importantly, iOS sales accounted for 27 percent of total online sales, nearly four times that of Android, which drove 7.6 percent of all online sales.

The Broker Technology Landscape: 2015

Enjoy your holidays and best wishes in 2015.

A. Re-thinking everything, or “Ubering your broker value equation”:



  1. The Post-PC CEO: No Desk, No Desktop
    Mr. van Paasschen, 53 years old, is among a growing number of professionals to enter the post-PC world, ditching the desktop and turning to smartphones and tablets as primary work tools. The former Coors Brewing Co. chief relies on his Apple Inc. iPhone and iPad for work at home and the office.

    He admits that the transition was easier for him than for the average employee, since he spends the bulk of his time traveling, attending meetings, or reviewing documents others have created. But he is an early adopter, not a fluke.

    As mobile devices get faster and add new capabilities, the chained-to-your-desk personal computer may begin to fade. Research firm Gartner Inc. projected in July that the traditional PC market, both desktops and laptops, was on pace to shrink 6.7% this year, and 5.3% in 2015, based on the number of units shipped. Tablets and smartphones, on the other hand, are expected to grow.



  2. The Web is Dying; Apps are Killing it
    The Web—that thin veneer of human-readable design on top of the machine babble that constitutes the Internet—is dying. And the way it’s dying has farther-reaching implications than almost anything else in technology today.

    Think about your mobile phone. All those little chiclets on your screen are apps, not websites, and they work in ways that are fundamentally different from the way the Web does.

    Mountains of data tell us that, in aggregate, we are spending time in apps that we once spent surfing the Web. We’re in love with apps, and they’ve taken over. On phones, 86% of our time is spent in apps, and just 14% is spent on the Web, according to mobile-analytics company Flurry.

    The 20+ year old browser has served us well. but, as always in technology, the new replaces much of the old. Further, app time exceeds all www time. Consider your agent, manager, buyer and seller expectations. 74 seconds: compare a real app vs a “responsive website”.

  3. Coca-Cola Disconnects Voice Mail at Headquarters:
    People north of 40 are schizophrenic about voice mail,” said Michael Schrage, a research fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management’s Center for Digital Business. “People under 35 scarcely ever use it.”

  4. Why Sony’s breach matters:
    My personal view is that there is no longer an ability to add more speed-bumps and even if there was it would not address the changing environment. The road is covered with bumps and cones, but it is still there. The modern enterprise PC and Server infrastructures have been infiltrated with tools, processes, and settings to reduce the risk in today’s environment. Unfortunately in the process they have become so complex and hard to manage that few can really know these systems. Those using these systems are rapidly moving to phones and tablets just to avoid the complexity, unpredictability, and performance challenges faced in even basic work.

    That is why we are at a defining moment.

    Related: French researchers find that Android apps exploit permissions.

    We just rebuilt our Google Android public app. It is important to remember that a Samsung Android on AT&T is not the same as a Samsung Android on Verizon, Sprint or T-Mobile. Further, the numerous Android variations prevent us from offering a number of services from seamless CRM sync to deep and easy to use documents. Our iPhone/iPad Agent App supports the best tools we can create today. There are a litany of other issues and differences, but, as Sinofsky points out, we are at a defining moment and today, Apple’s iOS (iPhone/iPad) is best positioned for serious enterprise and private apps.

  5. Mobile Technology & Banks:
    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.

B. Growing Your Broker Value Equation in 2015+


A brief first hand observation of Uber’s street smarts and ability to leverage their iPhone app to acquire drivers. Lots of lessons for brokers, particularly in offering mobile first tools like our new Agent App. The value of a great agent has never been higher.

Our Agent App wireless on the big screen:




A 2014 20M agent’s use of our single entry system to run their business:



C. The twilight of SEO?

  1. Facebook’s Popularity Among Teens Dips Again:
    A report yesterday by Frank N. Magid Associates Inc. found that the portion of 13- to 17-year-old social-media users in the U.S. on Facebook slipped to 88 percent this year from 94 percent in 2013 and 95 percent in 2012. In the same period, Twitter Inc. and messaging applications rose in popularity in that age group, the study showed.

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

  3. This year marked the first Thanksgiving Thursday where mobile traffic accounted for more than half of all online traffic.

Ready for a deeper dive on the 2015+ opportunities? Call 1 608 468 6013 or email jim@vp.io to schedule a chat.

Why Sony’s Breach Matters

Steven Sinofsky:

My personal view is that there is no longer an ability to add more speed-bumps and even if there was it would not address the changing environment. The road is covered with bumps and cones, but it is still there. The modern enterprise PC and Server infrastructures have been infiltrated with tools, processes, and settings to reduce the risk in today’s environment. Unfortunately in the process they have become so complex and hard to manage that few can really know these systems. Those using these systems are rapidly moving to phones and tablets just to avoid the complexity, unpredictability, and performance challenges faced in even basic work.
 
 That is why we are at a defining moment.

Coca-Cola Disconnects Voice Mail at Headquarters

Duane Stanford:

“People north of 40 are schizophrenic about voice mail,” said Michael Schrage, a research fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management’s Center for Digital Business. “People under 35 scarcely ever use it.”
 
 Coca-Cola, which so far has cut voice mail at its Atlanta office complex and a nearby technology center, allowed employees to keep it if they claimed a “business critical need.”
 
 About 6 percent of workers opted to retain it, Rosseter said. Use of the office-based system had been declining, according to the memo.

“clients pay a price that they think is fair”

Aspiration:

At Aspiration, you decide what to pay us. No, we’re not joking. And we’re not crazy (we hope).
 
 We don’t make a cent from you other than what you choose to pay. And then we hold down, negotiate down, and subsidize any expenses or fees to third-parties.
 
 We’re betting that if we bring you good value, and act on good values, you’ll pay us fairly – and respect us for respecting you. Besides, if we ask you to trust us with your money, shouldn’t we trust you too?

French researchers find that Android apps exploit permissions

Pete Sayer:

Android apps really do use those permissions they ask for to access users’ personal information. French researchers found that one online store records a phone’s location up to 10 times a minute. The tools to manage such access are limited, and inadequate given how much information phones can gather.
 
 In a recent study, ten volunteers used Android phones that tracked app behavior using a monitoring app, Mobilitics, developed by the French National Institute for Informatics Research (INRIA) in conjunction with the National Commission on Computing and Liberty (CNIL). Mobilitics recorded every time another app accessed an item of personal data—the phone’s location, an identifier, photos, messages and so on—and whether it was subsequently transmitted to an external server. The log of the apps’ personal information use was stored on the phone and downloaded at the end of the three months for analysis.
 
 The volunteers were encouraged to use the phones as if they were their own, and together used 121 apps over the period from July to September. A similar study last year used a special iOS app to examine the way iPhone apps access users’ personal data.

 

My Thesis on the Mobile Internet

Ben Bajarin:

A good Western example of something similar is Facebook. Facebook started and grew on the desktop web. But today, nearly all their focus and innovation is around mobile. This has to do, in part, with their global presence but also as they recognized a shift, even with Western consumers, from desktop Facebook to mobile Facebook. Facebook is increasingly adding things, like Messenger and stickers, that are heavily influenced by things that are working in Asia. I expect this to continue and for the West to begin to bring similar business models.
 
 Follow the Software and the Money
 The biggest stand out point to me, which makes clear this shift from the PC to mobile, is to follow the software. Nearly all interesting and innovative things we see in every major market from a software, as well as services, standpoint is on mobile. This is the telltale sign of where we are going. In the PCs heyday, we saw tremendous innovation in software. Now, nearly all PC innovation has moved to the cloud and very little local software innovation exists. This is true even in the enterprise. There is not a new enterprise-focused software or services startup today centering on or even emphasizing the desktop over smartphones and tablets. Any credible enterprise software platform or service must include mobile devices as well.
 
 The same is true from a monetary standpoint. Nearly all the money to be made in software development is in mobile. While there are some opportunities on the PC, what software work we see is designed to monetize cloud services, not necessarily the software itself. Right now in mobile there is money to be made in software. Eventually services will become a bigger deal in mobile as well. But for now, the money is in mobile and most of the focus of software innovation is there too.

 

Facebook’s Popularity Among Teens Dips Again

Bloomberg:

A report yesterday by Frank N. Magid Associates Inc. found that the portion of 13- to 17-year-old social-media users in the U.S. on Facebook slipped to 88 percent this year from 94 percent in 2013 and 95 percent in 2012. In the same period, Twitter Inc. and messaging applications rose in popularity in that age group, the study showed.
 
 The Menlo Park, California-based company first warned a year ago that teens weren’t using its website as often as before. Facebook stopped discussing teen usage on its earnings calls after last year’s disclosure alarmed investors. While the issue was all but forgotten as the company’s advertising revenue reached new highs, it’s a bigger concern now, according to Tero Kuittinen, a managing director at Magid in New York.

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. Spider.io, 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”

Steve Sinofsky:

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

Winning:

Real agent and public apps with an enterprise CRM that pulls it all together in one system from leads to documents and transactions. Virtual Properties – Your Trusted Technology Team since 1995 – has it now.

Native apps (50 second video), including our new powerful agent app and 5th generation public apps (96 second video) are designed, built and implemented for the new world.

A proven Enterprise CRM that runs large (and growing) brokerage services.

Your upside when we work together?

A 70ish very successful agent, after attending brokerage training on our new agent app:

“When I can figure it out the first time, that’s a hell of a deal”.

26 active listings!

There are some useful recruiting concepts here – assuming you have great leadership and technology.

Brokers have choices. Call 1 608 468 6013 to chat or email jim@vp.io

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.