Mobile Is Changing Our World: Are You Ready?
Look around your office or observe sideline activity during your kid's soccer game, and you'll see that access to the internet on a mobile device is impacting people's lives in a variety of ways.
At that all-day soccer tournament, you're likely to find parents hunkered down with an iPad, searching the internet for a nearby sandwich shop, or posting a photo on Facebook to show off a great save made by the goalkeeper. On the other end of the spectrum, you’re sure to find a mom or dad still "triple-tabbing" as they send out text messages to family or friends.
For those who work remotely, there are no shortages of devices all capable of allowing your emails to follow you around wherever you are.
Many of us have had our first mobile experience for simple, practical things, such as email, texting and phone calls. But as people learn to love the social-life expanding capabilities of Facebook and Twitter at events "as they happen," cell phones and tablets are becoming more sophisticated. And the potential uses for these devices are rapidly changing.
A big part of this is due to the expanding use of smart phones and the many free apps available through them. According to new research from Google, smart phone market penetration reached 38 percent in the U.S. in 2011. The same research shows that consumers use their phones for internet access 69 percent of the time. The research folks at Forrester predict that by 2016, 257 million smart phones and 126 million tablets will be in use by U.S. consumers, which is a remarkable surge.
The data shows that our children will grow up with even better and more sophisticated phones than we have today, so it's a good time to consider how consumers will want to interact with your company and how you should start getting ready now, not later.
At Zillow, we realized early that real estate information could be optimized in a mobile environment. Why? Well, anyone who has driven by a "for sale" sign, only to find missing flyers in the plastic holder, understands the frustration of unavailable information. When potential buyers are searching neighborhoods, they want information "now." At Zillow, mobile is such a big part of our service that we dropped the formal ".com" from our name because as of today, 30 percent of our traffic comes from a mobile device. On the weekends, the number spikes to nearly 40 percent. Pretty amazing.
The real estate industry is a great example of how mobile can work to serve a business and the consumer. Today's house hunters can integrate their mobile apps into their Sunday drives, allowing them to immediately expand or deepen their knowledge about what's on the market, what’s the price history, who's the listing agent and where there are scheduled open houses. Add a few texts or emails between buyers and agents and, presto, a real estate deal is originated through a mobile app.
This is the new reality for our industry, thanks to numerous mobile applications developed specially for real estate.
In January 2012, 53 homes per second were viewed on Zillow mobile. That's an astounding statistic that makes it very easy to imagine a world where a majority of internet access will come from a mobile device. That’s why it's prime time to reach out to mobile consumers. We know they have a thirst for information and that they are becoming more dependent on having that information at their fingertips.
Mobile is not on the horizon, it's here now – all around us. Are you ready?
Sara Bonert joined Zillow in 2005 and is responsible for partner relation team activities such as training, educating and communicating with the agent and broker community. Sara also works to ensure that data feeds from 1,000+ data partners are processing correctly every day on the site. Sara got her start in real estate online advertising at Citysearch.com in 1999 and has also worked with Network Communication, Inc., publisher of The Real Estate Book and Apartment Finder, where she helped launch an online advertising component of the traditionally print product.
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