Which Mobile Platform Should I Choose? A Guide for Real Estate Professionals
By Colin Ryan
About Ratings and Reviews
Over the past two years, the mobile device market has become a pretty crowded field, expanding to include a growing segment of tablets as well as a new major operating system (and, very recently, a resurgent one).
Today, there are four major platforms—iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone. While Google and Apple are the clear leader, Microsoft and BlackBerry are making ambitious bids for third place.
So which OS is the right fit for you as a real estate professional? Here’s our breakdown of the hardware and software pros and cons of all four mobile platforms.
- Global market share. Android is the undisputed world leader, with about 54 percent of the global smartphone market (as of Q4 2012). This is especially worth considering if you have a lot of international real estate clients or listings.
- Google integration. As Google’s native mobile OS, Android is obviously deeply integrated with your Gmail and Google Apps accounts, tools of choice among many real estate professionals. Consequently, Android does a better job of syncing your settings and files across devices than any other platform.
- Mapping. With system-wide Google Maps integration built in and turn-by-turn directions as a standard feature, Android is ideal for real estate professionals who rely on mapping when working out in the field.
- Software fragmentation. Because it’s implemented across a variety of devices made by multiple manufacturers, OS updates and fixes are often pushed to Android devices unevenly. The wide spectrum of device specifications in terms of screen resolution and capability also contributes to buggier app performance.
- Few real estate apps. Currently, Apple simply has better offerings when it comes to apps for real estate professionals, such as Happy Inspector. That said, Android’s market share means it’s never far behind for developers.
- Domestic market share. As of February 2013, Apple’s iOS is the platform of choice for American smartphone users, with over 50 percent of market share. One of the best aspects of iOS is the ability to share in Apple-exclusive features like iMessenger’s group chat. Go with another platform, and you could be missing out.
- Hardware/software integration. Whether you’re on an iPhone or an iPad, Apple’s platform is designed from the ground up for its own hardware, which translates to a much more seamless and bug-free experience for users.
- Strong app and peripheral ecosystem. Android is close behind, but iOS offers more high-quality apps than any other platform, and app developers almost always build their software for iOS first. Apple’s “cool” factor also gives it the strongest market for accessories like cases, camera lenses, etc.
- Limited multitasking. iOS is built for simplicity, not productivity. Simply put, iOS users can’t do two things at once. There are no widgets or tiles to provide live app information at a glance, and users must exit one app and return to the home screen in order to access another.
- Lack of customizability. The flip side of Apple’s simplicity and integration is that users have to do things their way. The platform only supports a limited number of file types, and power users will miss the ability to customize their layout and alert profiles, as well as advanced features like file management.
- Price. Apple’s devices are among the most expensive on the market. They also lack a number of hardware features that have become standard on other platforms, such as Wi-Fi tethering and hotspots, expandable SD storage, and near-field communication (NFC).
- Windows and Office integration. Windows Phone integrates deeply with Microsoft programs that many real estate professionals use heavily, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. The platform is also uniform across phones, tablets, and PCs, making it easier to sync and work on multiple devices.
- Dynamic interface. Window Phone’s unique interface of live tiles allows for a quick, real-time view of your latest emails, tweets, and other data without having to enter the apps themselves, saving users time and effort.
- Lowest market share. Despite a major ad and publicity push and flagship mobile devices like the Surface tablet, Windows Phone still has the lowest market share on this list with just 3 percent.
- Limited apps. Windows Phone has 125,000 apps, while the Windows 8 OS for Surface and PC is approaching 40,000. Still, this pales in comparison to Android and iOS, and some key players, most notably Google, have no plans to develop anything for the platform.
- Few device options. While devices like the Nokia Lumia 920 and HTC 8X have received great reviews, Windows Phone still doesn’t offer the breadth of devices and accessories that Android has.
- Messaging. BlackBerry has always been strong when it comes to messaging, and the company continues this tradition with BB10, improving BBM and email. The keyboard software on the new Z10 has also been praised for its ease of use.
- Multitasking abilities. BlackBerry 10 may be the best OS on this list for productivity. Its all-touch interface enables better multitasking than any other platform, allowing users to seamlessly switch between up to 8 active apps.
- Enterprise and security. BlackBerry still provides the best security for browsing and user data, a crucial consideration in the real estate world. Continuing this tradition, BB10’s enterprise edition will offer Balance, which partitions your phone into personal and work profiles and encrypts your data.
- Brand new and untested. Despite its long development history, BlackBerry 10 is a fundamentally new platform rather than an incremental update. As such, it’s bound to have a few bugs and issues in the coming months as it’s tested out in the real world.
- Fewest apps. 70,000 is a lot of apps out of the gate, and the company has worked hard to court developers. Nevertheless, BlackBerry 10, like Windows Phone, lacks several major apps, such as Instagram, Spotify, and Google Maps.
- Company health. After 18 months without a major hardware or software release, BlackBerry new products represent a major gambit. If the ambitious new OS and phones don’t pan out, the company’s long-term viability could be questionable.
Have more pros and cons for these platforms? Be sure to share them in the comments!
Published on February 1, 2013
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