Friday Flash: Photo hype, broker/aggregator bliss and the perils of denial

Photos, photos, photos!! The hype around the “photo economy,” kicked into high gear by the Instagram acquisition, rolls on.

The hype itself may be as insubstantial as a Bristol Palin reality show, but don’t dismiss the core of truth underlying it. There’s a something real here, particularly for us in real estate.

Take just three stories that hit my screen this week:

Airbnb wish lists are a highlight of new site design.” The booming peer-to-peer rental site is pulling their database of property photos (which is, at three million, child’s play compared to many real estate databases) front and center. Before, they had been, according to the company’s COO, “hidden behind search.”

What Realtors could learn from fashion and ad gurus.” A Swedish real estate company is going super high-gloss on merchandizing its listings, and, in turn, creating compelling visual content that markets the company too. They’re killing it. Property views are double that of their nearest competitor.

The salient quote:

“We’re actually not doing anything radically new,” CEO Tomas Backman tells us. “We’re just using the communication attitude from the fashion and ad agency industries and applying it to the sleeping gray real estate branch.”

Wanna get paid for iPhone photos? Foap makes it easy.” Stock photos suck. And hundreds of millions of people carry good cameras in their pockets. This app makes sourcing photos of something or someplace really easy.

The point: We’ve known for years that people love photos of properties and neighborhoods, but now it’s easier to accumulate and leverage them. Let’s get going!

Speaking of visuals, check out this site (and, in particular, the seven videos) Florida brokerage Michael Saunders & Company has created to market a $30,000,000 private island. We’re told the investment is paying off, with serious sight-unseen interest very high.

Nicely done.

The iPhone turned five this week. These quotes from RIM’s former Co-CEO’s about Apple’s entry into their space offer a stark lesson in the power and perils of denial.

Trulia is releasing a commute map feature. It looks great. User can easily evaluate a home using its distance from a place of work and proximity to mass transit.

It made me think, though, that these sorts of things, built as they are to complement a search based on property listings, should be part of the value exchange between broker and aggregator. In other words, I, broker, give you, Trulia, my content. In exchange, you, Trulia, give me these super-cool maps for use on my own site.

It might make for a happier marriage.

Google held its annual I/O event where they trot out their latest greatest stuff. They announced a crappy tablet, some kind of jukebox thing and geek-gasm glasses.

More interesting is Google Now, a sort of reverse Siri that collapses the gap between user intent and user satisfaction that characterizes search. Read about it and view the demo here.

You could probably use a laugh, and it’s Friday. So take a look at these fake property ads from the Onion.

Enjoy the weekend.

 [Disclosure: Michael Saunders & Company is a 1000WATT client, though the great work on the island site was all them!]