Continuing the “look back” theme from last week, let’s see how well I did with by CRE predictions for 2012.
My first “forecast” was that Microsoft would experience a resurgence. It seemed like a good idea at the time… A new mobile and desktop operating systems (OS), a tablet (finally!) – but they blew it all. They staggered the launches for each so only those who believed the promise of what was to come took the risk – which wasn’t many. And when they were finally all “out there”, none of them played nice with each other. What an unbelievably stupid strategy. While there is a lot to like in the new Windows OS, Microsoft just can’t seem to get the “ecosystem” idea down like Apple and Google/Android have.
Since I flubbed on Microsoft – not to mention the prospects for Palm OS (it really is a good OS…just poorly executed and promoted!) – you’d think I’d stay away from more OS predictions. What I will say is that Android will continue taking share from Apple. It’s much easier to develop for and the device hardware just keeps getting better. Android tablets are also a lot cheaper. But on the CRE front, Apple seems to be the OS of choice for tablets thanks to apps from CoStar, LoopNet and Xceligent.
Speaking of apps, CRE specific app development was on my list. And there was quite a bit of activity on that front (see Coy Davidson’s post…). Most of it was in the marketing/lead generation space pointing to a real need for alternative marketing approaches and outlets. Other apps involved improving business processes, an encouraging trend that hopefully will address and bring more awareness to CRE’s transaction efficiency (or lack of…). There’s a lot of room for improvement and I hope to see more apps like this.
I’d also like to see some of these developers work together to integrate with related apps or provide a way to export data for use in other applications, notably CRM apps. If CRE is going to be able to tap into real business intelligence, data from numerous sources will need to be combined. Agents need to see the “big picture.”
I was right about CoStar/LoopNet. Nothing much changed, though it seems that several LoopNet people might have lost their jobs since CoStar is closing up LoopNet’s offices/consolidating its resources. CoStar says they’re doing great, but with the merger “synergies” wearing off, Morgan Stanley rated it underweight a few months ago. However, they’ve been beating analyst estimates through the third quarter 2012.
The Wall Street Journal speculated that CoStar is feeling the heat from start-ups but that’s only in the marketing/lead generation arena – not data collection/analysis. We’ll have to watch these startups to see if they offer better results than LoopNet. After all, the only reason agents send listing data to LoopNet is for leads. If someone else does it better in certain markets, then LoopNet’s dominance will fade.
I was wrong about LoopNet Pro Tools becoming a big source of revenue for CoStar/LoopNet. As Dominic Zabriskie at CRE Apps notes there hasn’t been a noticeable use of these tools by the major brokerages at least. At the time of my prediction, there was no pricing info (excuses!). Turns out it’s fairly steep. I’m not sure that the extra $50 plus per month for marketing tools on top of the $50 or so for search is worth it to smaller market brokerages/agents.
As CRE Apps also pointed out, most of these tools are available at less cost. But ProTools is also a marketing model of the past – standalone sites, PDF flyers and email marketing. Not that there’s not a need for outbound tactics but there’s more to marketing these days than that. CRE is looking for new ways to market – and social networking is an obvious alternative. Will 2013 be the year CRE gets serious about social/inbound marketing? We’ll see…
Photo by Andy Heather