Brokers: Take your time with mobile

Yesterday, a big brokerage company had us take a look at their iPhone app.

Our feedback: “This is really bad – how could you release this?”

The answer: “We just wanted to get something out there on the iPhone.”

OK. I understand the impulse. Mobile Web adoption is skyrocketing and the iPhone is, for now at least, the runaway leader. Redfin reports that their app already accounts for 10% of traffic on weekends. That sort of number is only going to get bigger for any company that offers a great mobile experience.

But the broker above is not alone. I have talked to many brokerages in the past couple of months that are racing to develop mobile apps, often through vendors of dubious quality.

This makes me wince. Brokers got the Web wrong for so long in so many ways. Now’s the time to start fresh on a new platform and, alas, the same mistakes are made. Bummer.

I’ve put these questions to several brokers pursuing this course: “Would you open a new office location in a quonset hut with no chairs? Would you plant yard signs made of cardboard?”

Of course not. Never in a million years. These are important brand touchpoints.

The mobile device is at least as important. Soon it will be a more important touchpoint. Give it the care – and the investment – it deserves.

The right way

PMZ real estate, a large brokerage located in California’s Central Valley, got it right. They built an IDX-based iPhone app in-house that’s better than pretty much anything else out there. You can read a little about it in my already-outdated “15 real estate related iPhone apps you need to check out” post.

There are some things I’d change, but it’s an excellent app that positions the company to take full advantage of the mobile opportunity.

They did not go quick and dirty. They did not follow the pack over a technology cliff. They invested in talent that produced something great.

Do it that way!

[Disclosure: 1000WATT Consulting has done a small amount of consulting work with PMZ unrelated to their iPhone app]