Thoughts on today’s Zillow and Apple events

Tough day to keep up with my Twitter stream today. Between Apple’s new iPad event and Zillow’s Agent Forum going on there was lots to digest.

A couple thoughts on each:

Brad Inman tweeted something yesterday that I think is pretty relevant to the framing of the Zillow event:

There’s no doubt Zillow is seeking a very close relationship with its Premier Agent customers. They’re providing them with tools, training and leads – basically the air support brokers and franchisors have traditionally offered.

I don’t believe they are seeking to dislodge those relationships, but their efforts should make everyone think about how to step up their game in terms of delivering value to agents.

A few interesting tidbits coming out of Las Vegas:

Agents can now buy video ads on Zillow. I can’t wait. The bus bench has been updated for the digital age.

Seriously though, I think Zillow is going to sell these ads by the proverbial metric crap-ton.

Super smart play.

If you’ve been paying attention, mobile has been a buzzword for Zillow execs for a couple of years now. But today they are really getting serious about delivering on the promise in the agent arena.

I noticed last night that Zillow had pushed an update to their iOS and Android apps that introduced more agent focused tools. Today we got more details on what those are.

Zillow Agents can now instantly reply to and communicate with leads or inquiries directly from their phone using auto-replies and template (read, canned) responses.

I love this idea. Way too many times, unfortunately, we hear continue to hear the story that leads coming in to agents fall unanswered. If Zillow can lower failure rates at that initial point of contact, even if it means one-tap replies, then this is a good thing for both consumers and agents.

Agents can also now request and log client testimonials directly from their phone, when they are right there in front of them. No clunky surveys that need to be sent via email.

I’m not sure of the full functionality of this feature, but if the app could capture video testimonial, things could get very interesting.

While the other portals have agent apps on mobile, this is really Zillow’s first direct foray (they acquired Buyfolio – now Agentfolio – in 2012) into mobile tools for Realtors. This is important. As I wrote earlier this year, mobile is the future of real estate software.

Which leads me to the Apple announcements today: A smaller, thinner iPad Air 2. On the surface (no pun intended) there’s not much to get excited about. But despite recent pronouncements around doom and gloom in the tablet market, I think this is precisely the point.

Four years ago when the iPad launched it was a revelation: lightning in a bottle, captured twice. Today, it’s a workhorse. I still believe the iPad will become the computer of choice for Realtors.

And I suspect, from what I see in the photos of events like the Zillow Forum, it already is.