|My personal experience and my impression of the feedback I get from agents and professional real estate photographers suggests that the use of 360 tours is declining in general but there are hotspots of interest in 360s. It's difficult to quantify this impression. So I wanted to do this poll and hear what readers experiences with 360s are.I shot 360s for 10 years as a agent and got started using 360s in the early 2000's done by a company called bamboo.com which was eventually bought by realtor.com and renamed to iPix.com. Ron Rosen, a new blog reader, who is enthusiastic about 360s reminded me that the original iPix.com went bankrupt around 2003. The current iPix.com does 360 video- I believe this is a totally different company than the original one but I'm not sure.
When I shot 360s extensively I would discuss the media with all our sellers and buyers. Over time I found that roughly a third of them really didn't like 360 images. Many clients claimed they didn't like the feeling they got from the spinning image. Although, on balance the 360s I did were a big positive factor in attracting new listing customers. I think mostly because we were just doing something more than other agents at the time.
I still occasionally find people that are wildly enthusiastic about 360 images. And there are some geographic areas where photographers tell me they must be able to do 360s to compete.
I warn beginning real estate photographers to be careful because it takes much more time and equipment to create quality 360s than stills so it's important to make sure they are getting paid for their investment when when the produce a 360 product.
In the end analysis, what is most important these days is that what ever media you use is instantly accessible by anyone that visits your site or tour. Historically, 360s have always had the problem that they need special viewer technology based on QuickTime, Java, Flash or more recently a special App to view the 360s. Special technology is the marketing kiss of death! Your work must be instantly accessible or viewers will move on to the next listing. A good example that instant accessibility from from all platforms is possible is tourbuzz.net tours. You can have stills, 360s and soon video on tourbuzz tours that are instantly accessible by any platform. Be careful though, not all tours can do this.
Update Jan 3: Whoa, look at Fred Light's comment below. He says: "I just received a call about 30 minutes ago from the CEO of one of the largest virtual tour providers in the country, who does slideshows and panos. He’s looking to partner together to start incorporating video into their offerings as they are seeing a drop off in interest in panos, and more interest in doing video, especially for higher end properties." Maybe the CEO reads this blog;)
Update Jan 9: This poll confirms my intuition about 360s or partial 360s. Yes, they are on the decline and currently only about 30% use them. And as comments indicate there are still people that are passionate about 360s. Thanks for everyone's participation this is very informative.