Friday Flash: Everyday magical

I downloaded iOS 10 the other day and was pretty underwhelmed. Not much had changed as far as I could tell. Maps looked a little better, and iMessage felt a little messier.


Then I discovered the new “Memories” feature in the Photos app:


There they were: our trip to Hawaii this year, Barcelona in 2013, the “Best of 2015.” – little slideshows complete with music, photo effects and video clips woven together, automatically. I hadn’t done a thing.

The one from Hawaii made me tear up. I texted it to my wife, upon whom it had the same effect. They were that good.

Yesterday I downloaded Houseparty, a group video chat application enabling “spontaneous togetherness.” I’ve used plenty of other video apps, but this one feels way different to me. Easier, lighter, more fun. Just look at the app’s website. There are no words explaining Houseparty, just a visual you understand immediately.

Computer vision and data science that makes you weep. Spontaneous togetherness.


It makes you wonder if before long a lot of what we think of as “real estate technology” is going to be simply overrun by the sheer preponderance of amazing software in the wider world. Do we really need real estate-specific photo, video or slideshow apps? Will we need “transaction management” software when artificial intelligence matures?

We’ll see. But the everyday magical stuff just keeps coming.

Inman has three stories related to Upstream this morning:

New Black Knight MLS tool offers broker control – no Upstream required

Realogy Franchise Group executive questions value of Upstream

How MLS platforms could empower brokers from within

Most brokers I know support Upstream. I support Upstream. But the biggest challenge the initiative faces is not its inherent worthiness. It’s simply the complexity of the industry itself.

MLSs are threatened by Upstream. So big vendors that serve them, like Black Knight and Corelogic, come up with solutions that place brokers’ data management in the MLS sandbox. Zillow must anticipate Upstream, so acquires Retsly and Bridge Interactive to build out their own data management platform.

And of course there are the age-old cleavages in the broker community itself: big/small, franchise/independent, agent-centric/brokerage-centric, and so on. Everyone wants an edge because, well, the industry is competitive.

Industry-wide initiatives must navigate all of this. And even when they get off the ground, like, the acrimony hardly ceases.

This data management contest is going to play out over the course of 2017. Product execution is important of course, but I think persuasion, politicking and deal-making are going to determine who wins.

Domino’s Pizza is now a leader in customer experience. Imagine that.

In April, the company released a “Zero click” app that made it possible to get a pizza to your door easily even after a 12-pack of Coors Light and several bong hits. Do no more than open the app and, voila, the pizza’s on its way.

Two week ago Domino’s launched a Facebook Messenger bot that allows for “conversational” ordering.

These things are part of a broader strategy to make ordering a pizza possible – indeed, nearly frictionless – from almost anywhere.

This makes me think about the barriers we put up between consumers and agents. We have round robin lead distribution systems, virtual assistants that catch inbound requests and basically stall people, and forms galore.

There’s still so much opportunity in improving how demand for real estate and real estate services meets supply. Companies like Opendoor and Knock are going big here, but they’re hardly the end of the story.   

Enjoy the weekend.