I am head-over-heels in love. He’s smart, sleek, intuitive. He sings to me. He never forgets important anniversaries. And he looks great in black. Battery life is a little wanting, but sacrifices must be made for something this wonderful. Oh, you thought I meant a man? No. I’m in love with my iPhone.
I recently upgraded to Apple’s wildly popular smart phone, and I am kicking myself for waiting as long as I did. It’s been all of two weeks, and I can’t remember why I ever carried so many gadgets—iPod, Blackberry, camera, personal cell. Completely unnecessary.
And then there are the apps. Some people (not me, ahem) can lose a day or two in productivity researching and downloading three or four dozen programs for their new phones. In my case, I didn’t focus on games like Wurdle and Cogs (OK, I did download those, but only to see what the fuss was about), but rather, I downloaded practical apps that have made my life significantly more, well, mobile. On my commute to work, for example, the apps are in full use: Huffington Post to read the headlines; Bank of America to pay a few bills; Amazon to buy my mom’s birthday gift; OpenTable to make a dinner reservation (for a restaurant I vetted, of course, through the Yelp app).
What’s more, new document storing and sharing apps will enable me to write this article whether I’m sitting in the center of San Francisco’s Union Square or curled up next to a fire avoiding this never-ending winter. Without a laptop in sight. And when the time comes, I’ll naturally have a number of mobile apps to choose from in order to hunt for a new apartment.
Mobile is hype? My newfound soulmate and I beg to differ.
Say what you will about the ROI of social networking. Or the real benefits of resident portals. (We do. Read all about it in “Reality Check,” which starts on page 10.) These innovations have their pros and cons. But they haven’t changed the fundamental, underlying way we do business. Mobile, however, will. Let me give you an example. During my app-hunting, I searched for my go-to travel search engine, Sidestep. The app doesn’t exist. But Sidestep’s primary competitor, Kayak, has a fantastic, easy-to-use free app. In an instant, I switched loyalties from one Web site to another because of the gadget that is now by my side 24/7.
I predict the same thing will happen with apartment companies. Firms that are developing apps that allow residents to sign a lease, pay rent, submit a work order, and reserve a guest suite or community room with a simple swipe of the finger are the firms that will stand out. And customers will notice. I have.
The reality is that Gen Yers—and, in fact, most individuals today—have come to expect that the companies they support will employ technologies that make their lives easier. I disagree with the psychologists who say brands don’t matter. They do. The battle between the Apple iPhone and Google Android for dominance in next-generation smart phones has proven that to be true. And the frequency with which customers are now making decisions based on cell phone compatibility is mind-boggling.
Unfortunately, the blessing and the curse of technology is that it evolves more quickly than most firms can stand or afford to keep up with. That will always pose a problem for companies burdened by shrinking budgets and recessionary operating standards. Yet it’s a challenge that cannot be ignored.
After all, just two days after I purchased my 32 GB, 3GS gadget, I read reports that Apple would be issuing its iPhone on the 4G network a couple of months later. The bells and whistles on that next generation look so, well, tantalizing. As much as I love my expensive new toy, I guess, like with men, sometimes you have to trade up.