Mobile devices are becoming increasingly significant as a tool for home buyers and and agents. Here are a couple of facts that suggest the trend that is occurring with mobile devices:
- Smartphones now account for more than a quarter (25.8%) of worldwide traffic according to gizmag.com August figures with the Nokia N70 leading the pack with an 11.7% share. In the US, the BlackBerry 8100 is the weapon of choice garnering 14.7% of traffic but the big mover - somewhat unsurprisingly, is Apple's iPhone, which the report found to be the fastest growing device in the world last month putting it into fourth spot in the US where its traffic doubled (7.8%) and ninth globally ( 3.8%).
- Major tour provider, Tourfactory.com now provides a video file of their tours just so the video can be uploaded to youtube.com so tours can be seen on mobile devices. This is explained on my post last June in a comment by Herb Dierks (CEO of tourfactory). I also explain how to create a video file from any Flash tour in this post.
It's not hard to put yourself in the shoes of a home buyers out roaming around neighborhoods checking out homes for sale carrying a iPhone or other smartphone with a browser. Now days when they come across a for sale sign that has a tour URL on it (or the flyer) they are going to type in the URL and have a look. The same kind of thing goes on with agents out showing buyers homes. They'll be driving past a home for sale that's not on the pre-planned tour, and the buyer says, "Oh, what about this home?" If the agent or home buyer has a mobile device they key in the URL or MLS # and want information and photos of the home right there from the street. You want your tours visible to these people standing on the street in front of the listing.
So what's the problem? The problem is, if your lovely home tour or slideshow is in Flash people with iPhones and many other mobile devices can't see the tour! Yea, I know, it's taken years for Flash to finally become ubiquitous. Flash is almost the only player technology suitable for elegant slide shows and 360 image display that you can depend on being on every platform... except mobile devices.
Here's what's happening, there is a giant power struggle going on for control of the mobile browser:
- On one side is Adobe who wants to put flash on all mobile devices. Adobe just announced that they are going to make Flash available on Windows Mobile, Android and PalmOS. That's an obvious move but none of these brands are even in the top four of market share. They are all minor players.
- On the other side is Apple who says no Flash on the iPhone. Apple claims Flash performance isn't good enough for handsets. Most believe Apple will never allow Flash on the iPhone OS. Apple is depending on HTML 5 (now implemented on the iPhone). It's difficult to ignore Apple's power in this struggle because they've sold 30 million iPhones and at their current growth in market share they will be the top selling smart phone in the near future.
So, what's a real estate photographer to do? There are several choices:
- Supply youtube tours for mobile devices. Almost every mobile device can display youtube videos.
- Ignore mobile devices... people should be using real computers!
There may be some other solutions that I don't see. For now you can get by with #1 just like tourfactory.com.