Info on the Road with a Smartphone
Why do people buy a laptop computer when they’re more expensive, harder to upgrade, and easier to lose than desktops? Because it’s not powerful computing people need, it’s portability. If you haven’t guessed where I’m going with this, I’m asking why only one in five REALTORS® in Massachusetts (according to the 2007 NAR Profile of Members) owns a Blackberry, Treo, iPhone, Google phone, or similar smartphone that can access the Internet from anywhere?
Top Three Smartphones:
Below are the three smartphones being used by Massachusetts REALTORS® according to the recent member survey (seen on page 18) and Mike Cutlip’s pro/con examination of each.
PRO: Blackberries are the most common business smartphone today. There are many styles, they’re inexpensive, and they have user-friendly software.
CON: Blackberries have few touchscreen options and some models have inferior keyboards.
PRO: Treo is time-tested and reliable. The smartphone has many add-ons available, uses a touchscreen, and has a full keyboard.
CON: The design and Palm software are aging (Windows OS is average) and there’s no built-in GPS.
PRO: iPhone has an excellent user interface and is the best phone for web surfing. It also has hundreds of free (or cheap) productivity applications available.
CON: The iPhone keyboard has a bit of a learning curve and it is currently only available through AT&T.
All in Your Hand
Short of typing a novel on the usually-cramped keyboard or running a PowerPoint, there is little you can do on a laptop that can’t also be done on a smartphone. The primary use of these indispensable tools is mobile e-mail access. The very nature of Gen Y consumers means that a faster response time is critical in converting prospects into clients. Think about it this way—when a buyer e-mails you a question about a property, they are “in the moment” and actively engaged in the home search. The sooner you can respond, the greater your chances become of reaching a receptive consumer.
But e-mail is only part of the picture. Managing appointments is easy, because smartphones are the progeny of PDAs—those handheld organizers from the late 90s that stored your calendar and contacts but did little else. Additionally, because smartphones can access almost anything on the Internet, the possibilities are equally endless. Most major MLSs offer software for searching properties on a smartphone, and Realtor.com offers free software for searching all online listings from your phone.
If you have a GPS for your car, a smartphone can take its place, although without some of the features of a standalone GPS. For the advanced user, a GPSenabled phone also allows for the new breed of “location-aware” social networking services like Brightkite and Yahoo’s Fire Eagle.
Keeps You Engaged
Speaking of social networking, time is required to consistently engage with your online community. To that end, all of the major sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace have software for smartphones, or a version of their site made to fit on the smaller phone-sized screens, so you can update your social network from anywhere. Another device available on smartphones is Instant Messaging (IM) through services like AIM, Yahoo, and Gtalk. Client-focused agents communicate in the way the client is most comfortable, and recent surveys show that more and more people of all ages use IM (some more often than e-ail).Those small screens and keyboards aren’t for everyone, but having Internet access from anywhere is so useful that you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. Smartphones are inexpensive, easy to use, efficient, and fast when surfing the Web, and can handle most of the daily tasks of the road-warrior agent. The increase in efficiency you get from having a smartphone will allow you to do more, in less time, from anywhere.
How can you say no to that?
Article written by:
Director of Technology Services
Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®