Real estate moves to the big screen

My eighteen month-old daughter woke up last Saturday at 5:00 a.m. and decided that it was time for Daddy to be awake too.

After brewing a strong cup of coffee, we sat down to play. Half an hour later she decided she was still tired and needed to go back to bed.

All the caffeine coursing through Daddy’s veins meant he wasn’t so lucky.

Faced with a few hours to kill before the rest of the house stirred, I did what any guy would do… I turned on the football. Not that kind of football, mind you… the other kind.

I noticed that the English Premier League team I support, the Wolverhampton Wanderers, was playing. I spent a few minutes trying to find a stream of the game on the Web before I gave up and turned to my iPad.

Sure enough, I found that Fox Soccer had an app that carried the game. In seconds, I was streaming the live feed from the UK. Then, using Airplay, I flung the stream up on to my living room television through my Apple TV and settled in to watch the match.

It was marvelous, and also one of those Eureka moments when something elusive becomes clear.

The combination of apps, Airplay and the Apple TV show us Apple’s next big play.

We are all potential channels

The big screens that dominate our living rooms are little more than terminals – dumb receptacles for the endless stream of content that sprays out of the cable jack in the wall.

This is changing. Our televisions are getting wired up. They’re getting smarter. They’re becoming part of the living, breathing content network that is the Web.

They will soon become the perfect medium for entertainment, discovery and exploration. Browsing YouTube can show you a vast archive of video content on any subject, at will. A place like Vimeo hosts and curates the best of independent film making.

New sites, new apps, new choices.

They are, in effect, new channels made possible by the democratization of content creation.

How will this manifest in real estate?

Well, consider the treasure trove of content produced by real estate agents, brokers and MLSs. It’s alluring. The legion of property porn blogs that exist out there are testament to this.

Television seems like the next frontier for this content. Right now it’s trapped in tiny monitors, laptops and devices. It begs to go big.


Imagine using something like Trulia’s great new map view on the big screen, using your iPad to navigate neighborhoods.

Imagine flipping through multimedia enabled listings with your family on the couch.

Imagine creating a show like HGTV’s House Hunters featuring your own agents and customers.

The possibilities are vast.

That doesn’t mean it will be easy. There will always be the question of quality. And marketplaces will become noisy and difficult to navigate as their editorial overlords fade away. But as the costs of production tumble and the walls of distribution crumble, we’re seeing a new way forward…

Apple TV

There’s been a lot of speculation that 2012 will be the year Apple releases its long-rumored iTV. Much hand-wringing has erupted over what the screen sizes will be, what they’re going to look like, etc. But I think this is missing the forest for the trees.

I believe Apple’s take on television is going to be much deeper than the device itself (though they will probably sell a ton of them) and may cause us to redefine what we think of as “TV”. How we use them and what we use them for.

You’ll always be able to plop in front of your television. But what you’ll watch, and how you’ll experience it, will be something quite new.

The hack I orchestrated to watch my Wolves will no longer be a geeky workaround. It will be the way things just happen.

As real estate struggles to apply policies to things like smart phones and social media – the innovations of the past five years – it’s good think to ponder what the next five might bring us.