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RISMEDIA, June 19, 2010—As technology continues to infiltrate the real estate industry, many real estate professionals are beginning to wonder where they should be focusing their attention. Here, Rich Barton, CEO, Zillow discusses why the iPad is such an incredible asset to the real estate industry at large.

Rich Barton

If you’ve ever seen a supersonic fighter jet zip by, you know that it does so silently…until the sound traveling behind the plane, like the wake behind a speedboat, catches up to you with a chest-rattling sonic boom. You don’t really believe or understand that the jet was there until your ears confirm what you saw. For me, the jet zipping by was the iPhone. The iPad is the sonic boom.

We launched in 2006. We thought it was pretty slick—a database of all homes, each with a continually updating Zestimate on the rooftop. Instantly, millions of people were using Zillow. Then, in 2009, when Apple released a GPS iPhone, we launched a completely re-imagined Zillow for this new device, taking advantage of location and that nifty, little touch screen. The Zillow iPhone app has now been downloaded more than one million times. I realized that the iPhone was something magical, but, like seeing that fighter jet rip by, I didn’t quite believe it or understand it. Until now.

Having now spent a couple of months with my new iPad appendage, loaded up with, once again, a completely re-imagined Zillow on iPad app, I will assert that we are looking at the first massive user interface (“UI”) innovation in personal computing since the mouse and graphical UI banished the DOS-prompt/command line to purgatory in the late ’80s.

So, why do I say the iPad is the UI sonic boom? Why is it such a big deal? In a word: intimacy. Until I curled up with my new iPad, I hadn’t realized what an insanely lousy proxy a mouse pointer is for my hands. Before, I was watching a cooking show on TV, but now my hands are right in there kneading the eggs into the meatloaf. With the iPad, I’m pinching and swiping and twisting and holding. Yes, I could do some of this on the iPhone, but somehow the larger screen of the iPad, resting in my lap, has connected all the dots for me. My instinct is that this intimate interface is the future of how I will be interacting with all of the machines in my life.

Here at Zillow, we are excited to have had one of the first iPad-designed apps in Apple’s App Store on opening day, offering an all-new home shopping experience that is quite different from our iPhone and Android mobile apps, or even the website. Now, with the most recent launch of the 3G version of the iPad, we anticipate an even greater iPad adoption from the real estate community that will forever change how agents search for homes, interact with photos, and prepare for listing presentations.