What the new wave of tablets means for real estate

When the iPad debuted four two years ago, I called it a “blank slate” – mostly in reference to the fact that you could use the device for any number of tasks.

Today, I think the analogy may have been more apt than I thought even at the time.

There’s not much doubt in my mind that the tablet is wiping the slate clean on how people will view “computers”.

Case in point: I’ve helped replace at least two “computers” in my household (my mother’s and wife’s) with tablets in the last year. I don’t think I’m alone.

Research firm Piper Jaffray is even more bullish in their projections on tablet adoption. They predict that tablets will out-ship notebooks by the second half of next year, and that total notebook shipments will be down 2 percent this year and another 8 percent next year.

Recently I had a chance to review Google’s Nexus 7.

Nexus 7 Review from 1000watt Consulting on Vimeo.

I generally had a pretty good experience with it, even though I ultimately decided that it wasn’t for me.

And now consider today’s Kindle Fire launch.

Amazon’s new Kindle Fire HD comes in both 7-inch and 9-inch versions, priced at $199 and $299 respectively for the intro models. Glossing over the technical specs for a second, which look solid, the newer (and bigger) Kindle Fire presents perhaps the first compelling alternative to Apple’s iPad.

More radically, they threw in a monthly 4G LTE data plan for $50 a year. That’s a massive, massive disruption.

Think about it. High-speed mobile Internet in the hands of (potentially) millions of people for about 4 bucks a month. The price of a cup of coffee.

Combine all of this with rumors of a new, smaller iPad coming soon and the new Windows 8 RT tablets launching in October and it sure seems to point in one direction.

In the same way we moved from mainframes to PCs, and from desktops to notebooks, I believe we’re rapidly moving to a world in which most people’s primary home computing devices will be small, light, ultra-mobile tablets. And touchscreens will be at least one of the dominant user interfaces that people will interact with moving forward.

So what does this mean for you?

As an agent, I think this is great news. Smaller, faster, simpler, cheaper (!) touchable devices that are “always on” and connected to the cloud will make your lives easier. New software that plays to these new paradigms will make you more productive.

For brokerages, as we’ve written many times before on this blog, you can be unwiring your offices, anticipating an even more mobile workforce. And you should be thinking how you can reach consumers on these devices. Do you have an app strategy, for instance? What kind of experience does your website offer a user on one of these devices?

I think this transition will be the most painful for real estate technology vendors. It’s going to require massive retooling and redirecting resources. Legacy platforms will need to be torn down and redesigned. New platforms must be considered. The smart companies I know in this space are already doing this.

If you’re not at least thinking about this shift, then you’d better start today. Change is happening quickly and it’s only going to get more exciting.

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