blackberryphoneReading agent conversations in the Real Town and Active Rain communities has suggested that many real estate agents may be at a crossroads in mobile technology.  Real Estate practitioners have embraced the Palm Treo for years because of a single unique feature – the ability to use the Treo’s Infra Red port to open GE Supra Lockboxes. Now that the Treo has outlived its useful life, what will be replacement?

Blackberry’s parent company, Research In Motion (RIM) has worked with GE to develop a work around called eKey for Blackberry, you can pair a key fob with your Blackberry to behave as an e-key on Supra Lockboxes.  RIM has 50% US Market Share over all smart phones.  As mentioned in the WAV Group White PaperJan-03-2008 – WAV Group survey indicates that smartphone usage in real estate improves agent responsiveness, timely communication with clients, and real time-access to mls data anywhere. This research was performed before the release of the iphone.  However, like the Palm Treo, Blackberry is in the prime place to replace the treo because of the eKey.

I have and iphone and a Blackberry.  The iphone is fun and I like it because it allows me to stay closely connected to mobile software innovation – but the Blackberry is by far the best business tool for reading and responding to email can calendar requests by combining a keyboard and microsoft outlook friendly operating system.  The Palm Pre is, in theory, a good combination between the iphone and the Blackberry – offering a cool touch screen with a purposeful keyboard and microsoft friendly operating system.  Unfortunately, technical and user reports indicate that the phone falls short in reaching its theoritical ambition, and there is no IR port for the GE Supra Lockbox.

At the end of the day, the Blackberry offers the best soltuion for real estate agents today for the following key reasons

  1. Blackberry is available on your carrier of choice – verizon, AT&T, TMobile, and Sprint.  Afterall, a cool phone that you cannot get reception on is useless.
  2. Blackberry works seemlessly with Microsoft Outlook
  3. Mobile MLS systems like Most Home support the Blackberry
  4. Blackberry works with the eKey
  5. Blackberry supports key social netowrking like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and WordPress

Disclaimer:  RIM has hired WAV Group for research and consulting on smartphone use and adoption in the real estate industry.