Apple's iPad means big changes ahead for real estate

I’ve had a week to mull over the announcement of the iPad and I’ve come to this conclusion.

The iPad is 26 years coming.

Those who blast the iPad as just a large iPhone, I think are missing the point. Fraser Speirs puts it best – they’re most likely in “Future Shock“.

Let’s take a step backwards…

Apple iPad
(AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

When it launched in 1984, the Macintosh was meant to be “the computer for the rest of us“. Its mouse-based GUI redefined what it meant to use a desktop computer. It presented a revolutionary new paradigm which, once adopted by its competitors, was overwhelmingly successful.

Within a few years, the mouse was the defacto way we interacted with our machines and we haven’t looked back since.

So, looking forwards, I believe the iPad is the next evolutionary leap. It’s about us taking the next step towards that simple goal. A place where the complexity, the barriers and the fear of computing have all but disappeared.

And just like the iPhone forced us to rethink mobile computing, the iPad will force us to rethink portable (read, recreational) computing. This is a device meant for the coffee shop and the living room. And to be sure, with the introduction of the iPad, the laptop won’t disappear. But just like the desktop before it, it will likely be banished to niche uses.

So what’s taken it so long?

The hardware is finally here. Combine a really fast chip (Apple’s new A4 silicon) and capacitive touch screens, which give us the ability for fluid gesture-based interaction (multi-touch), and you have the launch of a brand new computing metaphor.

It will redefine the way we approach our everyday digital tasks. Or, to put it into Apple-speak, become “the best way to experience the web, email, and photos.”

So what does this mean for real estate?

Well, you probably are not going to be writing college-length blog posts on a device like this – but you very well might find yourself creating a CMA.

Single, simple tasks will the order of the day on the iPad and the many devices that will follow its lead.

And bottom line, is that, for vendors, the launch of the iPad provides one of the single biggest opportunities to redefine the way your customers (brokers and agents) interact with your product. For Realtors, the iPad provides a tantalizing glimpse of what’s possible and ultimately, what you should demand from your vendors.

Just look at what Apple itself has done to some of its core applications.

It is about making computing more joyful, more simple, more intuitive. It’s about removing the artificial barriers to your work flow and letting you focus on what’s really important. Despite over two decades of innovation in this space, that’s something that can’t be said of 95% of all real estate business software right now.

Smart vendors recognize the opportunity presented by the iPad. Already, Mac software developers Omni Group have promised they will move all five of its products to the iPad this year. I expect many more to follow.

Let’s just hope we see the same from the brave in real estate technology too.