It’s a Beautiful Day in the Agrihood

John Gittelsohn:

American builders have a long history of bulldozing farms to make way for housing developments. Now developers are starting farms to sell homes. Harvest, a $1 billion “urban agrarian” community being built by H. Ross Perot Jr.’s Hillwood Development in Texas, hired a farmer to cultivate vegetables before construction began on a planned 3,200 houses. Willowsford, a community of 2,130 homes in Virginia’s Loudoun County, set aside 2,000 acres of green space, including 300 acres for raising fruit, vegetables, chickens, and goats. Developer DMB integrated produce fields and edible gardens into projects in Arizona, California, and Hawaii.

Smart Search:

Market [Trends] & Neighborhoods [Trends]

Client A is interested in a 3 bedroom, 2 bath single family home from $175,000 to 225,000 (tap refine, upper right).

I begin with a fast survey of the entire market using the Agent App.

I then tap trends & charts (upper left) and walk my client through all buyer and seller activity.

This accomplishes several things:

  1. Credibility: Instant market smarts with a tap or two.
  2. Flow: I can save this search for myself and my contacts. The search automatically appears in my contact’s CRM connections.
  3. SOI: I share trends & charts via text, email, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Linkedin and other destinations.
  4. Brand: On iPhone and iPad, I am always on top of the market. My competitors are still using 50 clicks.

Dive into Neighborhoods:

You are no longer limited to stale MLS statistics based on zip code, county, city or MLS area.

All of this in front of clients, in seconds.

Your work is immediately available in the CRM

and, of course auto-filled to your listing and offer documents.

Learn

720p iPhone version iPad 480p 720p

Interested in a quick look? Dial 1 608 468 6013 or email jim@vp.io

Let’s compare technology usage data :)

(c) 2015 Virtual Properties, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Brand success in an era of Digital Darwinism

Jacques Bughin:

The challenges for brand-marketing executives will probably increase as consumers opt for more complete digital interactions. We found that the likelihood of brand conversion is lower for fully digital consumers than for experimenters. Specifically, when experimenters become aware of a brand, their conversion rate reaches about 40 percent. The conversion rate for fully digital consumers, by contrast, is only 25 percent.
 
 More actively digital consumers are prone to abandon a brand midstream for a number of reasons. They are more likely to have joined Facebook, Twitter, or product-evaluation platforms for conversations about the qualities of products or services. The greater number of touchpoints before purchase increases the odds a consumer will encounter a deal breaker along the digital highway. What’s more, companies have less control over more digitally seasoned consumers, who initiate their prepurchase interactions independently. And since the level and influence of advertising in the social-media space have yet to reach the levels common in offline channels, brand messages are less likely to influence decisions.
 
 Our research indicated, however, that some companies have managed to navigate this competitive turbulence successfully. To understand the differentiating factors for that success, we rated brands across four digital skills: the ability to create brand awareness among an unusually high share of digitally savvy consumers, to serve customers digitally during the purchase processes, to generate an online customer experience deemed at least as good as the offline one, and to track the digital comments of customers about their experience and to use those comments to improve it. We added the scores across these dimensions, compiling a digitization index that represents the weight of satisfactory touchpoints leading to a purchase across decision journeys.3

Real Estate Agents Are Desperate to Understand Millennial Homebuyers

Patrick Clark:

Now that millennials seem poised to flex their muscles and pour some money back into the housing market, real estate agents sound as if they’re afraid of being rejected.
 
 Last month, a 30-year-old marketing executive named Kyle Reyes took to ActiveRain, an online community for real estate professionals, to complain that Americans in his age group had lost the art of strong eye contact and a proper handshake. “It’s an entire generation that doesn’t know how to communicate,” Reyes wrote.
 
 Mumbling millennials have real estate agents worried—and for good reason. In a profession where success depends on gaining strangers’ trust and winning word-of-mouth referrals, older agents are scared they won’t be able to relate. “There’s a huge disconnect,” said Reyes, president of Manchester, Conn.-based Silent Partner Marketing, a company that has advised real estate brokerages on appealing to millennials. “I’m seeing a slow generational shift towards younger agents.”
 

Replacing Middle Management with APIs

Peter Reinhardt:

And I suspect these software layers will only get thicker. Entrepreneurial software developers will find ways to tie these APIs together, delivering products that combine several “human” APIs. Someone could use Mechanical Turk’s API to automate sales prospect research, plug that data into 99designs Tasks’ API to prepare customized infographics for the prospect sent via email. Or someone could use Redfin’s API to automatically purchase houses, and send a Zirtual assistant instructions via email on how to project-manage a renovation, flipping the house completely programmatically. These “real-world APIs” allow complex programs (or an AI in the spooky storyline here), to affect and control things in the real-world. It does seem apropos that we invest in AI safety now.

We see quite a bit of this in our CRM automation services.

The price of free part 2005: YouTube makes a move against brand-sponsored videos

Eric Blattberg:

YouTube is putting down the clamps on video creators who work directly with brands, nudging them instead to rely on Google’s sales team for deals.
 
 YouTube has quietly amended its ad policies to block “graphical title cards” from sponsors aiming to promote their brands and products on YouTube channels, according to a revised FAQ document in YouTube’s help and support section. Video overlays of sponsor logos and product branding are no longer allowed — unless the sponsor pays Google to advertise on that channel.
 
 A YouTube representative called this revision a clarification of its existing policy, one that occurred late last year, intended to prevent advertiser conflicts and ensure viewers don’t feel bombarded by ads. Paul Kontonis, executive director of the Global Online Video Association, however framed it as an explicit change that prevents YouTube stars and multichannel networks from working prominent sponsor logos and images into their videos without handing Google a cut of the revenue.

Dare Greatly

Peter De Lorenzo:

Is it something I personally like? No, but frankly, I’m not the target. It’s the new-generation “X” and “Y” buyers who matter. Was this a purposeful attempt to eradicate Cadillac’s glorious past? No, it was a stark admission that new stories had to be written for new generations of buyers who not only couldn’t care less about the history of the brand, but who are impatient to find the luxury brand that speaks to them most. In other words, whatever previous notions of Cadillac that were hovering out there in the mist simply no longer applied.
 
 What has transpired in the last six months in regards to Cadillac in terms of marketing strategy, product direction and everything else associated with this brand in transition has been monumental and is geared to what Cadillac will be in the future – where it needed and wanted to go, and what it will look and feel like on the journey there.
 
 This new Cadillac is armed with a driven leader bolstered by conviction and experience, one who has a completely different outlook for the brand. He has a like-minded and aggressive CMO at his side, a new advertising agency and a whole new way of thinking about the brand unfolding in staccato bursts of thought and creativity.
 
 And the result of this swirling maelstrom of new thinking?

Is Google making the web stupid?

Seth Godin:

The gaming of the SEO system combined with the power of first page results (virtually all search clicks come to those on the first page of results) combined with Google’s shift to controlling as much as possible of the unpaid clickstream means that this paradigm is no longer what it was.

That means that a thoughtful, well-written online magazine has a harder time being discovered by someone who might be searching for it, which makes it harder to scale.

If you’re a content provider, the shift to mobile, and to social and the shift in Google’s priorities mean that it’s worth a very hard look at how you’ll monetize and the value of permission (i.e. the subscribers to this blog are its backbone). And if you’re Google, it’s worth comparing the short-term upside of strangling the best (thoughtful, personal, informed) content to the long-term benefit of creating a healthy ecosystem.

Here’s the key question: Are the people who are making great content online doing it despite the search regime, or enabled by it?

For the first ten years of the web, the answer was obvious. I’m not sure it is any longer.

And if you’re still reading this long post, if you’re one of the billions of people who rely on the free content that’s shared widely, it’s worth thinking hard about whether the center of that content universe is pushing the library you rely on to get dumb, fast.

More from Marco.

Get ready for companies that run themselves

David Morris:

Imagine, for instance, a bike-rental system administered by a DAC hosted across hundreds or thousands of different computers in its home city. The DAC would handle the day-to-day management of bikes and payments, following parameters laid down by a group of founders. Those hosting the management programme would be paid in the system’s own cryptocurrency – let’s call it BikeCoin. That currency could be used to rent bikes – in fact, it would be required to, and would derive its value on exchanges such as BitShares from the demand for local bike rentals.
 
 Guided by its management protocols, our bike DAC would use its revenue to pay for repairs and other upkeep. It could use online information to find the right people for various maintenance tasks, and to evaluate their performance. A sufficiently advanced system could choose locations for new stations based on analysis of traffic information, and then make the arrangements to have them built.
 
 One of the most intriguing parts of such a system is that it allows the crowdfunding of large-scale projects without the centralisation and fees of either stock exchanges or platforms such as Kickstarter. The DAC platforms themselves are models – in the year since Bitcoin Miami, Ethereum has raised about $14 million, and BitShares around $6 million, solely through the direct sale of the digital currency that will allow people to run programs or make exchanges on their networks.

Install the best new iPhone and iPad apps from Pinterest

Pinterest:

Over the years, we’ve added extra info to Pins to make them even more useful. Recipe Pins list ingredients and cook time, product Pins show you price and availability, and article Pins give you a headline and story description.
 
 Now if you’re on your iPhone or iPad, you’ll see another kind of Pin: app Pins. Let’s say you’re Pinning workout inspiration to your Marathon Training board. If you see a fitness app that helps you reach your goals, you can download it right from Pinterest.
 
 When you come across an app Pin, tap Install to download the app right to your iPhone or iPad without ever leaving Pinterest (you’ll only see app Pins when you’re using the Pinterest app on your iPhone or iPad).

Live TV viewing in the US was down by 12.7% y/y across the networks of major media companies in January

Lara O’Reilly:

A note released earlier this week from Nomura Research based on recent numbers from Nielsen found total live TV viewing in the US was down by 12.7% year over year across the networks of major media companies in January. The reason? Companies like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and Hulu tempting away viewers from watching content in the traditional way.
 
 That switch in behavior is resulting in a direct impact on the TV advertising market. Spend on TV advertising in the US dropped 2% year on year in the final quarter of 2014, Standard Media Index (which claims to pull 80% of US ad agency spend from the booking systems of five of the six global media holding groups, as well as some independent agencies) estimates.

Dark Patterns: inside the interfaces designed to trick you

Harry Brignall:

When Apple released iOS 6, one of the few new features not enthusiastically promoted by the company was Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) ad tracking. It assigned each device a unique identifier used to track browsing activity, information advertisers used to target ads. Even though IDFA is anonymous, it’s still unsettling to people who worry about privacy.
 
 Fortunately, Apple included a way to disable the feature. You won’t find it in the privacy settings, however. Instead, you have to go through a series of obscure options in the general settings menu. Now, “General” is a crappy name for a menu item. It’s mainly a bucket of miscellaneous stuff that they didn’t know what to do with. In the “General” menu, select “About.” Down at the bottom of this menu, next to the terms of service and license items, there’s a menu item listed as “Advertising.”
 
 If you haven’t been here before, the only option in the advertising menu, “Limit Ad Tracking” is probably selected “Off.”
 
 But let’s take a closer look at the way this is worded. It doesn’t say “Ad Tracking – Off” it says “Limit Ad Tracking – Off”. So it’s a double negative. It’s not being limited, so when this switch is off, ad tracking is actually on.

Aiming to Ease App Discovery, Apple Pairs With Pinterest

Mike Isaac:

There are more than 1.4 million mobile applications in Apple’s App Store. This is a good thing for Apple’s customers, because the choices are practically endless. This is also a bad thing for Apple’s customers, because the choices are practically endless.
 
 Unless you have a good idea of what you’re looking for, it can be tough to stumble upon novel, surprising items among Apple’s sprawling garden of apps.
 
 Pinterest, the popular social bookmarking start-up, thinks it has a fix for this. The company is unveiling a new product on Thursday that could make it easier for people to discover new smartphone apps without even having to go into Apple’s App Store.

Mobile on the Move: How the News Travels and Where It’s Headed

Mariana Marcaletti:

That’s why many players, like David Cohn, creator of the ground-breaking news app Cir.ca, believe the future of mobile depends essentially on how well news can be integrated into people’s routines. “[We need to focus on]simplicity and an emphasis on products that people use in their daily lives,” he said.
 But what people use in their daily lives is changing by the day.
 “Now, we are doing great on smartphones and tablets, but we also built a product for Google Glass,” WatchUp’s Adriano Farano said. “Tomorrow, you might find us on TV. Mobile is, to me, is probably the most comfortable portable device. So much so that sometimes I feel like it’s an extension of myself … a sort of cyborg. These devices can augment our perception of the reality.”
 
 So can augmented reality, computer-generated elements that are added to real world images, said The Wall Street Journal’s Ho. The challenge in delivering mobile news is to overcome the boundaries of the physical world, allowing people to interact in ways that were unimaginable before.

Get Appy 1: Agent Promotion

The landscape:

1. 75% of Americans have smartphones. 90% in 2 years

2. 1.5billion iPhone, iPad, Google Android and open Android devices were sold in 2014. A number greater than all PC’s in use today.

3. Obvious always wins

Most real estate software was created for the now declining PC era. You have an outsized advantage with our public and agent apps. They are faster, simpler and far easier to use than the competition. Most importantly, you can easily brand yourself on the apps.

Stay in your clients’ flow with the best apps.

Video 1: Agents. Promote yourself in the public apps.



Tap to view the video.

A 720P version, ideal for office meetings, is available here. More: iPad (720p) and Samsung (720p).

Video 2: Simple & Fast Search tips. The public and agent apps allow you and your clients to fly through markets and properties. No other app comes close.



Tap to view the video.

A 720P version, ideal for office meetings, is available here.

Share sales training tips with your managers.

Call or email if you’d like a more detailed presentation. jim@vp.io or +1 608 468 6013.

The android schism

Tim Bajarin:

I find it helpful to view certain tech industry moments as phases. These phases have some foundation in technology and the market’s maturity cycles. The PC industry went through a number of phases leading to where we are today. Mobile similarly has gone through its early phases and is now entering maturity both in technology and market/end customer phases. However, where the PC phase ended and is, for the most part, not changing much, mobile is entering uncharted waters.
 
 It is interesting to observe that the PC industry took computing only so far. Everything from size of desktops and notebooks (with their genuine lack of mobility), the complexity of the user interface, the need to learn to type efficiently and master the keyboard and mouse (to be PC literate), and high price points, has reached a total installed base of about 1.5 billion. It is important to note not all of the 1.5 billion PCs are owned by individuals. The individual owners of PCs in use is much lower by likely a few hundred million. The consumer portion of this number is in the 800m range. So, if we look beyond the business market, the PC took computing to just short of a billion people. The PC has peaked, reached maturity, and settled as a specialty computing product. To use a possibly worn out analogy, the PC is a truck.
 Turning to mobile, we see a different computing picture emerge. By achieving a smaller form factor (one truly able to be easily carried everywhere), dramatically less complicated user interface, and dramatically lower price points, the smartphone is bring computing to the masses in a way no computer before could have hoped to achieve. In doing so, the unique/individual owners of smartphones in use is nearing double that of the PC and will rise much higher. However, even within that context, a very important observation needs to be made.
 
 For the most part, this first phase of mobile grew from a somewhat technology literate/savvy customer. The vast majority of smartphones over the past decade have been sold to people who owned or were familiar/literate with a PC. Smartphones, for the most part, have reached saturation in developed markets like the West, Eastern Europe, and more developed regions in emerging markets like tier 1,2, and 3 (the more developed) cities in China and India. In fact, as I look at the regions of emerging markets where smartphones have the higher installed bases, it maps very closely to specific areas of those markets where PC penetration is high. The next phase of mobile is about bringing computing beyond those who are tech savvy or have PC literacy. But first, some points on the current smartphone market.

 

Why being tech savvy is no longer optional for employees

Juliet de Baubigny:

Learn to code. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of software developers alone is expected to grow 22% between 2012 and 2022. And this doesn’t even include the extraordinary demand for design and product management skills that companies are searching for at career fairs and technical bootcamps.
 
 Regardless of which industry millennials choose to pursue, technology is becoming an integral part of everything they use today. Whether they are in agriculture, where drones and big data are revolutionizing the way we grow our food, or in healthcare, where hardware and mobile applications are fundamentally transforming clinical care — being tech savvy has become a requirement. No, this doesn’t mean understanding the difference between a Mac and a PC or being able to use Microsoft office – that’s table stakes. It means being able to program, code, design and truly understand how technologies scale. For example, at KPCB we launched the Fellows internship program to expose college students not just to engineering, but also to design and product management.

NowThis scraps its website, goes all-in on social

Jeremy Barr:

Senior V.P. of strategy and partnerships Athan Stephanopoulos said that the decision to essentially scrap the company’s website was a reaction to consumer demand, and an acknowledgement of the way people use technology in 2015. Other media companies will follow suit, he said, “unless we live in a world where people are not awake.”
 
 “We’re not trying to lead the industry,” he said. “We are leading the industry and kind of redefining what a media company today looks like.”
 
 Interestingly, NowThis’ decision came one day after The Awl co-editor John Herrman predicted an inevitable industry shift away from websites, and toward platform-native content.

How I won the housing market (without really trying)

Linda Grant:

In the summer of 1994 I was looking for a flat to buy in Crouch End, north London. It was then a neighbourhood not so much up-and-coming as one that hid itself on the map, a bus-ride from Finsbury Park, the nearest tube station, and popular with people who didn’t have to endure the daily commuting life. Corner shop windows bristled with those little tear-off paper tags with the phone numbers of local psychotherapists and aromatherapy masseurs. The bookshop window displayed the novels of local authors – my own first novel would soon join them. I was single, self-employed, didn’t have children, worked from home writing for the broadsheets and had one published book behind me and another on the way. I didn’t care about gardens, access to schools, or transport links, I just wanted a good size second bedroom to write in. Working at home all day, I had a tendency to feel claustrophobic so I needed good light. I like looking out of the window. Before the internet, I could do it for hours.
 
 I went round all the estate agents gathering details until one of them handed me a single page and said, “You want this.” It was a three-bedroom maisonette in an end-of-terrace house whose next-door neighbours were a Jamaican family who owned a shoe repair shop. The conversion of the house had been done in the 1970s by earlier owners (music teachers) who had made a granny flat on the ground floor and annexed the garden. The upper flat, the larger part of the building, had a roof terrace over the ground-floor kitchen extension. Each room was separated from the next by a flight of stairs. As a floor plan it was quite weird. And it was very run-down. Artex swirled across the ceilings as if it were a Cypriot taverna, embossed wallpaper peeled away from the dried-up paste hiding dodgy plaster, the nubs of the old gas mantels poked through the walls and the chimney breast still jutted out into the kitchen.

“There are more sales staff than customers around here. Everyone buys online n

Bloomberg:

shuttered shops, victims of the rise of Internet-based businesses like Jack Ma’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and billionaire Richard Qiangdong Liu’s JD.com, which started out in Zhongguancun almost two decades ago.
 The online revolution promises to boost productivity and could create 46 million new jobs in China by 2025, many of them higher-skilled, according to a report by New York-based McKinsey & Co. in July. The losers will be as many as 31 million traditional roles, the equivalent of the entire employed population in Britain.
 
 While such creative destruction is a global phenomenon, its speed and scale in China is unparalleled, said Cao Lei, director of the China E-Commerce Research Center, a private research agency based in Hangzhou, the hometown of Alibaba.

Manager Tip 3: Discuss the Tech Landscape “Impossible to maintain the integrity of a pc over time”

A few links for your upcoming meetings:

1. Steven Sinofsky, Former Head of Windows 8: “Impossible to maintain the integrity of a pc over time”….

Note the Sony Hack’s role in driving usage away from the PC world.

“From the enterprise IT perspective, the transition from managing PCs to managing mobile devices (phones and tablets) is both a blessing and a curse. The faster that IT can get out of managing PCs, the better. The core challenge is that in the modern threat environment, it has become essentially impossible to maintain the integrity of a PC over time. Technical challenges, or even impossibility, mean that 2015 could literally see pressure to reduce PCs in use.

If you doubt this, consider the Sony breach and the potential impact it will have on the view of traditionally architected computing. The rise of tablets for productivity is, therefore, a blessing. Over time, any device in widespread use is eventually a target. Therefore, mobile presents the same risk as the bad actors find new techniques to exploit mobile. The curse, and therefore the opportunity, is that our industry has not yet created the right model for mobile device management. We have MDM, sandboxing and user profiles. All of these are so far not entirely well-received by users, and most IT feels they are not yet there, but for the wrong reasons. IT should not feel the need to reintroduce the PC approach to device security (stateful, log-on scripts, arbitrary code inserted all over the device, etc.).

This leads to a lot of opportunity in a critical area for 2015. First, a golden rule is required: Do not impact the performance (battery life, connectivity) or usability of the device. It isn’t more secure for the company to issue two phones — one the person wants to use, and the other they have to use. Like any such solution, people will simply work around the limitation or postpone work as long as possible. This dynamic is what causes people to travel with iPads and leave the laptop at home (along with weight, chargers, two-factor readers and more).

The best bet is to avoid using or emphasizing management solutions that work better on Android, simply because Android allows more hooks and invasive software in the OS. That’s quite typical in the broad MDM/security space right now and is quite counterintuitive. The existence of this level of flexibility enabling more control is itself a potential for security challenges, and the invasive approach to management will almost certainly impact performance, compatibility and usability just as such solutions have on PCs. As tempting as it is, it is neither viable nor more secure long term. Many are frustrated by the lack of iOS “management,” yet at the same time one would be hard-pressed to argue that the full Android stack is more secure. There will be an explosion in enterprise-managed mobile devices this year, especially as tablets are deployed to replace PCs in scenarios, and with that, a big opportunity for startups to get mobile management right.”

2. Facebook’s 4Q 2014 Results

Facebook has not updated their web stuff for years. Apps dominate (they tried mobile websites and killed that years ago).

3. Prioritize spending, training, recruiting and retention around real apps for buyers, sellers, agents and managers. This is much as Facebook and many others have done. Linkedin just released a new connections app….

No, I don’t mind keeping my buyers and sellers waiting“.

4. Google’s cost per click has fallen for the 13th consecutive quarter.

“Google’s slumping stock price has primarily been driven by two factors: steadily rising expenses and a general shift by people toward using smartphones instead of desktop and laptop computers to do searches and peruse digital content.”

5. Dessert:

Ubering your brokerage’s value equation.

A book that made me think of the relationship between brokers and agents. Blockbusters: Hit-making, Risk-taking, and the Big Business of Entertainment by Anita Elbe’s.

6. Additional Reading:

a. Recruiting & Retention in the New Technology Landscape. [Link]

b. Presenting at sales meetings or to buyers & sellers. [Link]

Learn more about our native agent (usage data) and public apps and cloud CRM services. One tap success. jim@vp.io or +1 608 468 6013

Apple Ranks As China’s Most Desirable Luxury Brand

Lorraine Luk:

“Apple’s positioning in Chinese consumers’ minds is getting stronger. Apple Watch should definitely benefit from this position,” said Neil Shah, analyst at Hong Kong-based Counterpoint research.
 While there is no doubt that Apple has done an excellent job of brand building in China, the technology company still has lots of room to grow in Central and Western China where the wealthy respondents told Hurun Research that they don’t have much passion for Apple’s products.
 Apple currently operates 15 retail stores in China and more than half of them are located in Beijing, Shanghai and other coastal areas.

The Safe Cities Index

The Economist:

The Safe Cities Index 2015 is an Economist Intelligence Unit report, sponsored by NEC. The report is based on an index composed of more than 40 quantitative and qualitative indicators. These indicators are split across four thematic categories: digital security; health security; infrastructure safety; and personal safety. Every city in the Index is scored across these four categories.
 
Each category, represented throughout the report by the icons shown in the key, comprises between three and eight sub-indicators. These indicators are divided between inputs, such as policy measures and levels of spending, and outputs, such as the frequency of vehicular accidents. A full explanation of the methodology is contained in Appendix 4.

“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

Additional Reading:

1. Technology landscape discussion for your office meetings. [Link]

2. Presenting at sales meetings or to buyers & sellers. [Link]

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.

Additional Reading:

1. Recruiting and Retention in the New Tech Landscape. [Link]

2. Technology landscape discussion for your office meetings. [Link]

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.”