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Monday Morning Mobile: GPS

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By Seth Kaplan

RISMEDIA, August 30, 2010—It seems like these days you cannot have a conversation about mobile technology without the acronym GPS coming into play and with good reason. Today more than ever, acronyms like GPS and LBS (location-based search/service) really stand big business. Juniper research estimates that location-based local search and information services will be used by nearly 1.5 billion mobile users by 2014 with revenues reaching $12.7 billion.

GPS is quickly becoming the default search method on many of today’s advanced mobile devices such as the iPhone and Android devices in particular. Dr. Windsor Holden, principal analyst at Juniper, Hampshire, England points out that “a far larger number of things came together at the same time: advances in network infrastructure and on-device positioning technology, improvements in digital mapping content and improvements in user experience,” in order to get the everyday consumer use of GPS where it is today. However, as great as GPS and LBS can be, it is important to think of the practical uses, especially within the world of real estate searches, before basing your entire mobile solution around the concept.

First, it is important to note that all devices do not support GPS directly through a Web browser; most often it is accessed through a downloadable application. The iPhone and Android devices are currently the only ones that allow consumers to utilize the device GPS directly through the phone’s Web browser. This means that unless you are developing a downloadable application for specific operating systems, your mobile provider must be able to provide device detection within your mobile solution, allowing them to provide GPS searches for customers on more advanced devices only.

The other thing to keep in mind is that as great as a GPS search can be, it requires you to be in the area you want to search in order to use it. When it comes to searching for your next home, this means you must be driving around your desired neighborhood in order to really put GPS to work for you. Now we know people who are looking to buy homes are searching where ever and whenever they have the time to do so. This could be on their lunch break at work, at Starbucks, waiting for the kids to finish soccer practice; none of which involve being in the area where you want to buy a home.

Smart GPS is a service that provides real estate consumers the ability to search in and around a particular area based on their initial search. For example, if someone is reading The Real Estate Book at Starbucks and they text in for more information on a home they like, Smart GPS would provide them with the 10 closest listings to the one they texted in about; all while they are miles or cities away from the area they are searching. Even better, take someone looking to relocate from California to New Jersey. They may be referred through the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World’s great referral network to Jordan Baris Realtors in Northern New Jersey. Well Ken Baris would certainly make sure that potential client could search for homes all over Northern New Jersey in the palm of their hands from their fantastic Mobile Website. That client could search for a home using the traditional search and when they found something they liked, they could quickly see the ten nearest listings using the Smart GPS function.

Yes, GPS and LBS mean big business and is a fantastic way to search for things, but it’s not the only business to be had. When creating your mobile solution, imagine how your clients and prospects will be using it on a day-to-day basis. Technology is great, but only if people can use it to get what they want. Put your client first and cool technology second.

Seth Kaplan is the president of Mobile Real Estate ID. Contact him directly at Seth@mobilerealestateid.com or, for more information, visit www.mobilerealestateid.com.

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