The Crackberrys are coming to Real Estate by a Storm!

Supra Blackberry phonesI’ve been a fan of the Blackberry for years. I LOVE their “push” email technology, and it’s one-hand scroll-wheel functionality. But I had to drop-kick my crackberry for a Palm Treo when Supra came out with the eKey technology in order to access homes for sale with lockboxes. I actually kept both for a while but after I got an iPhone three phones was just too much, even for a geek like me.

Supra only supports a handful of smartphones and most of them are Palm Treos, either Palm OS or Windows Mobile. The reason for this is not because they are lazy or unresponsive to customer requests, even if they are. The real reason is that most devices do not support IRDA technology. That’s the infrared port that communicates with the Supra iBox to unlock or program it. So Blackberrys, iPhones, and a bunch of other popular and cool smartphones were effectively blocked from being used as an eKey. Until now….

Blackberry eKEY-infrared convertorSupra has decided to sell an “infrared-to-bluetooth converter” and offer their Supra eKey services from several Blackberry devices by the end of the year. It’s like a car key fob that you carry on your keychain. According to their press release, Supra will support the Pearl, the Curve, and the 8800 series devices. There will be a couple of different plans offered. The new eData Mobile application will give the listing agent instant notification of showings, even while they are in progress. I’m not sure how this will play out. I’m not excited about getting calls from agents for feedback while I’m still in the house and showing my client. We may end up needing some NWMLS guidelines to keep Realtors from being too aggressive with other agents. (not that there are any pushy agents out there).

So the real question is … (drum roll please) Will Supra support the new Blackberry Storm? This is the closest thing I’ve seen to a true iPhone competitor coming to the market. All the other vendors have been scrambling to come up with a product that can compete with Apple’s evolutionary and wildly popular device. So far, none of them have really even come close, IMO. They may have some of the look and feel down, but the vastly superior software options still puts the iPhone WAY ahead of anyone else. But the one thing almost all iPhone owners agree on is that typing sucks on the iPhone. I can thumb a text message 10 times faster on a Blackberry.

Well, Blackberry may have found a way to solve this dilemma. The new Storm offers an on-screen touch-and-feel keyboard that you have to actually PUSH in a way that gives you a true “keyboard feel”. People tell me you quickly and intuitively learn how this works and your back to speed-thumb-typing in no time.The Engadget Mobile website has a page-by-page copy of the Verizon Sales brochure of the Storm if you want to look it over. I spoke with someone at GE Supra and they would not commit to saying the Supra eKey product would be compatible with the Storm. It uses Verizon’s GSM and Ev-DO networks and not Wi-Fi, which could be a deal killer for some people too.

Blackberry Storm keyboard

At least agents will have a viable alternative to the old and limited Treo. Finally, Change you can believe in! Sounds like the Blackberry’s running for office!

Addicted to Google’s Mobile Maps

[photopress:phone.png,thumb,alignright]I was just reading a post from Jim Kimmons where he gives advice for Realtors on how to better use their handheld Treo’s and it reminded me that I really should put a plug in for Google’s mobile mapping program because I’ve simply become addicted to it and many others could probably benefit from this tool.

The first thing to realize is that the mapping program is separate from your cell phone’s browser. In other words, you’re going to have to download a program to your mobile cell phone. Here is the url you’ll have to type into your cell phone’s browser to download the program:

Obviously, this program won’t work with all phones, but Google is kind enough to give a list of supported phones. Note that they do support Blackberry phones (which is what I use!).

Why am I addicted?

The interface is simple and and clean. The main options I use are “Move to Location” and “Find Business”. The “Move to Location” option is used to locate me in a general area, while the “Find Business” option gets me to specific places.

Being in a new area, this one-two combo has been extremely powerful. For example, today I used the program to find (and get directions to) a local post office, a washington mutual branch and a coffee shop, all while out of the office and miles away from my desktop computer. Very cool indeed.

As with many google programs, the tool gets even more powerful if you learn some of the “tricks”. My most common one is to use the “3” and “1” buttons to scroll between turn movement descriptions while navigating directions. I also like that “i” zooms in while “o” zooms out. (Note that I’m using a Blackberry and other operating systems will surely use different buttons!)

If you happen to be in my situation where you have a powerful phone (and no powerful in-car navigation system), definitely consider checking out this program. It has done away with my need for hard-copy maps!