The Most Interesting Thing About the iPad…

By Brian Summerfield, Online Editor, REALTOR® Magazine

…is not the product itself. At least that’s my first impression. As many who are smarter and more techno-centric than I am have noted, it seems very much like an oversized iPod Touch. And in this day and age, would you want the most noteworthy thing about your product to be that you’ve taken existing technology and made it less portable?

What's all the fuss about?

What’s all the fuss about?

But make no mistake, this is a triumph for Apple. In terms of generating buzz, it’s an unqualified success. The announcement of its tablet-style computer today has set the media world afire, overshadowing President Obama’s first State of the Union Address (happening this evening) in the exposure it’s received. The amount of hype leading up to this launch is perhaps the most impressive thing in all this. At least that’s what I think.

However, I’m much more interested in what you think. I’d be curious to find out if the average real estate pro sees any value in this. Not the technophiles, but the folks who are somewhere near the peak of the bell curve of technology adoption. Do you see any ways in which the iPad could benefit you as a practitioner?

Brian Summerfield

Brian Summerfield is Manager of Business Development and Outreach for NAR Commercial and Global Services. He can be reached at

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  1. Hi Brian, I think the iPad will be a great tool for real estate brokers. If Apple can implement the digital signature technology we will be able to have clients sign contracts, email them to the listing agent, submit for managing broker review, and open escrow with the touch of a button.

    I think it will also be wonderful for listing and buyer presentations. I believe that the local mls boards will need to be in support of this quickly and extend their operating platforms to Safari. If we had the ability to pull up MLS data on the go and hand the iPad to the client while we drive them around it would be AWESOME.

    Just a few thoughts. Thanks for the article.- Dan

  2. Brian Summerfield

    Dan, you make some great points. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I barely considered the transactional angle. You’re absolutely right, this could be a great way to present and process documents virtually. Thanks for your comment!

  3. Nobu Hata

    Short term: it’s a bloated iphone with no flash browser support, no camera, no multi-tasking features… and no phone, tethered to AT&T’s horrible 3G network.

    Long term I see it being absolutely revolutionary, changing the way people think about and use their computer. We all saw what third party developers did to the iphone in 3 short years, what will they do with this form factor? As mobile internet becomes faster and faster I see my clients hauling around their iPad running Google Augmented Reality apps. How about the folks at DocuSign to come up with an app for PA signatures for example. True paperless business!? True cloud computing?! Yes please.

  4. Chris LaGarde

    Disclaimer- I am a HUGE apple fan. With that said – I am actually a little disappointed with the ipad. I don’t know what I expected exactly, but it is missing that “killer app” factor. For real estate agents I don’t feel it holds much value right now, but in the future it might. As dan said- if they can develop more transactional related apps with a digital signature aspect it could be good. And while agree that it can make a nice presentation, my MacBook pro can do that just fine right now.

    I hope this is just a start for this device and that it captures the imagination of developers and engineers. It could be great, but isn’t just yet. We will see

  5. Brian & Dan – I don’t think the ability to handle documents, transactions, etc. on the fly will be a big deal, as that capability is already available on tablet PC’s.

    The game changer, in my opinion, is that the iPad will be another Apple-controlled storefront for Apple’s App Store. You want that great new mapping mashup some kid wrote? The App Store may be the only place you can get it, and the iPad may be the only hardware that will run it.

    Now then, if only someone would write a contact management program that I really liked!

  6. There can be no doubt that the iPad will change the world of computing. However, as Apple’s first iteration of the product its severely underpowered. As a comparison, the newly released Apple MacBook (not the Pro version of the laptop) is much more powerful for a comparable price. Although it lacks the touchscreen and slick interface, its a better workhorse for any business person.

    I’m an admitted Macophile – I love all things Mac and Apple. However, I’ll be waiting for the 2nd or 3rd generation of iPad when they’ve caught up to the specs a real business person would need to make it their daily use computer.

    One thing to love, the 3G plans don’t have a contract and are fairly reasonable. Although I’m not sure I’d use that option. AT&T has been putting millions into expanding their 3G coverage, but it still needs some work in metropolitan areas – not to mention rural areas across the US.

  7. Jason

    Anyone remember ATARI?

    If so that’s what you’re looking at… it will not have all the bells and whistles yet… It’s something to spark the hand held community to start a new revolution that not all things digital need to be small. Apple actually does not want to put all their ideas into a new product right off the bat, but rather wait to see what other do in response and then copy, make better then paste.

    I think this is a great step in the right direction and we will all see over the next 3 years how much this concept has evolved into something we can all use. Think Google is watching??? Yup. Nexus One will be the rival and it will be the Google RE Apps that make it the victor.

  8. Brian Summerfield

    I’m definitely sensing a theme running through most of these comments: This initial version isn’t terribly impressive, but the long-run implications of the new platform are significant. Jason, it’s apropos that you mention Atari. I think portable gaming is one area where the iPad could have a huge impact, but I haven’t heard a lot of other people say that.

    To get a another perspective on this, check out this post from Greg Swann. He’s as impressed with the iPad as I am unimpressed (though I actually agree with a lot of what he’s saying here about the potential business consequences):

  9. Brian,
    It is only a ‘game changer’ in that is is very light weight & big enough for signing. The down side is it is a touch screen where the signatures can get muddied. Processing power & RAM needs to be beefed up. I own a Modbook and love it. I am already doing the digital office and signatures on my Modbook. There are 10 different Apple browsers to choose from for MLS

  10. Johnny

    as an aspiring real estate agent i thought it could be useful in several different ways that i didn’t have or had but didn’t use, like my nav on my phone cant call clients while driving if using it but google maps and 3g would be able to, ebooks while waiting for clients and several cool features that i dont have because i would not buy into the iphone or ipod touch, the 30bucks for data beats 60$

    the thing mentioned here is where i thought it lagged was for mls safari doesn’t work to well (or at all) with it i think its a start and hope to see something from google that could match or beat this

  11. If you’re interested in collecting electronic signatures on the iPad, keep an eye on Our iPhone app already enables parties to sign on the iPhone touchscreen, so the iPad is the next logical step.

  12. Kyle Rank

    It’s only been a week but the my ipad has changed the way I work. I am already doing listing presentations which are extremely impressive! It’s also very impressive when working with buyers, no more printing all the mls sheets, I simply save all the listings as pdf’s and pull them up as we visit the houses. I’m also working on digital forms so the buyer can sign the ipad for disclosures and purchase offers. This will catch on in this industry, I’m just glad I’m one of the first to implement it!

  13. I use Zosh app where I saved the residential contract and have the buyers sign the contract right into the iPad. Zosh also can email the contract to buyers, yourself, and/or other agents. Noterize is also a great app for digital signature.

    Omar Arocho, e-Pro