Reviews

ACS Cloud Revolutionizes Energy Efficient Buildings

Throughout the commercial real estate industry, efforts are underway to provide techniques that will result in improved energy efficiency. Genea has announced the introduction of the Afterhours Control System, also known as ACS Cloud, which will provide tenants with direct access to lights and HVAC on an afterhours basis via a computer, tablet, or smartphone. The system works by connecting directly with the automation system in a building. As a result, it is able to eliminate a significant amount of work for property management teams.

Automation Drives Increased Tenant Satisfaction

Since ACS Cloud can be connected with the automation system in a building, there is no need for tenants to provide advance notice when submitting a work order request. The new ACS Cloud system features an impressive array of benefits, such as the ability to provide technical support on a 24/7 basis. This helps to ensure that tenant requests are always met, thus improving tenant satisfaction and helping to reduce bottlenecks in work orders.

Additionally, ACS Cloud is capable of managing billing automatically. This can prove to be helpful for afterhours rate structures, which can oftentimes prove to be quite challenging and may include concessions or even different rates or allowances for afterhours. Thanks to the implementation of the new system, tenants will be empowered to manage their own users.

Increased Energy Efficiency Made Possible

Yet another vital benefit of ACS Cloud is the fact that it will help to drive improved energy efficiency by making it possible to turn off the HVAC in a building during lower lease periods, such as during holidays and on weekends. This is an advantage that provides tremendous benefit, particularly as building owners seek strategies that will allow them to not only slash energy costs but also make a positive contribution to the environment.

ACS Cloud can also be customized to export files for billing data uploads to the most popular accounting software programs. This can help to eliminate the need for manual entries, which can prove to be a tremendous time saving feature. Additionally, ACS cloud is also capable of sending automated email notifications in order to provide property teams and tenants with detailed notifications regarding all requests.

While ACS Cloud certainly offers a number of benefits to tenants, it also makes the task of managing properties infinitely easier, as well. For instance, with ACS Cloud, it becomes possible to implement 24/7 monitoring for each work request. Building managers no longer need to worry about whether a service has been filled or whether it may have been overlooked. This makes it much easier for building managers to do their jobs while simultaneously delivering superior service.

In today's highly competitive commercial real estate industry, the need to operate in the most efficient and streamlined manner as possible is vital to long-term success. ACS Cloud delivers the ability to do so, giving commercial property owners and building managers the tools they need to operate properties with maximized efficiency.

KISI: Keyless Entry Solution for Property Managers

ATTENTION PROPERTY MANAGERS! Are you tired of sitting idly by and watching while modern technology makes sweeping changes in seemingly every industry except yours? You may want to check out KISI.

KISI is a mobile app that enables keyless entry to specific spaces for users approved by the building owner/manager. It renders age-old security solutions like physical keys, PinPads, keycards or turnstiles as options of the past. Yet, at the same time, these solutions need not be replaced, as KISI can be integrated into a building’s security system along with them, saving the installer tons of time and the aggravation that comes along with trying to convince individual people to transfer over to the new method.

With a few simple clicks, electronic keys can be sent out to a list of contacts. These keys and respective activity, can then be monitored on the KISI dashboard.

So, property managers are not only in complete control of who has access to each specific room in a particular building, but they can also monitor each person’s comings and goings as well.

Overall, KISI benefits property managers by offering them the following:

  • Ease of access – No need for awkward keycard holders or keychains. Users gain access to a space with one swipe.
  • Uniformity – No need to worry about different sets of keys or access codes. KISI is a uniform security solution that is the same for everyone.
  • Enhanced Security – Keycards and keys can be swapped. Codes can be written down. With KISI, property managers maintain ultimate control of who is allowed to go where.
  • Decreased Expenses – No more lost keys or keycards!!!

The cost for KISI varies depending on the size of the building. There is a one-time set-up and activation fee of $99 and a minimum one-year commitment. This does not include installation and if there’s one notable drawback to the service, it’s that licensed KISI installers are only available in major metropolitan areas such as New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. If you are good with these stipulations, you might want to consider giving KISI a try.

Learn more about Kisi here.

Collect Rent Online with ClickPay

As a highly customizable, multi-channel electronic billing and payment platform, ClickPay is a landlord’s best friend. Intended to streamline every transaction between property owners/managers and residents, ClickPay covers all of the bases in terms of the different methods of payment when the time comes to make one (online, walk-in cash payments, money orders, paper checks, all credit cards and American Express). clickpay 1

According to the company website, the software provides real-time updates and reporting of the following:

  • Accounting System Integration
  • Transaction Summary
  • Bank Deposit Reports
  • Payment History
  • Reconciliation Management

Overall, ClickPay enhances the landlord/tenant experience in the following ways:

Property Management Companies:

  • Collect rent, dues and parking fees online by giving residents the option to receive and pay their bills online. Eliminates tedious trips to the bank and updates transactions in real time.
  • Coverts and stores all payments electronically and securely
  • Seamlessly integrates with user accounting software

Residents:

  • PCI-Certified software and infrastructure to ensure for the optimum safety for payments while eliminating manual error-prone procedures
  • Extensive customer service options including live chat, telephone and email support

clickpay2

Drawing from a team that has proven track record, with decades of combined success in the technology and real estate sectors, ClickPay will only continue to adapt and thrive to make the lives of its users as easy as possible.

Learn more about ClickPay founder, Tom Kiernan, in this FunnelCast Post.

All your CRE news in one app

Whether you are just starting out in the business or are a 30-year industry veteran, one thing never changes. In commercial real estate, information is power. Many pros start their day off by combing through the business section of their local newspaper, then it is on to other local, regional and national CRE news providers. How much time do you spend every day to make sure you aren't caught with your pants down in a client meeting or pitch when someone asks, "So, did you hear how much One Corporate Center just sold for?!"

Thankfully, someone has set out to solve this time-suck of a problem. And that someone is Michael Beckerman.

Over the last several years, Michael and his team have collected over 3000 news sources from the media, real estate companies, blogs, video, market research and event announcements to create The News Funnel.

Michael and his team now have the largest and most comprehensive database of real estate-related content on the Internet. It is also one of the only sites of its kind to let you personalize that news based on your interests (eg. Medical Office in Tampa, Florida).

One of the best ways to do this is by downloading their new mobile news app. This app sends your very own personalized newsfeed directly to your iPhone.

So, what are you waiting for? Download The News Funnel app to begin getting personalized CRE news to make you the most knowledgeable person in tomorrow's 8am meeting.

Easier Email Signatures

airtime-for-emailAdding signatures to email can be a real chore. Sometimes you can’t use images, or if you can, they’re not embedded and end up as attachments. And links to your social networks - forget about it! Some of the problems can be solved with “advanced” methods requiring some HTML knowledge. But if you’re frustrated with your email software’s signature options, give AirTime for Email a try. You’ll not only be able to create a good looking signature file but track clicks, target signatures by location or device and instantly update old signatures. All you need to do is insert a bit of code in your email.

AirTime for Email integrates with a number of email applications including Outlook and Gmail. There’s a free plan without the targeting and paid plans starting at $9.99 per month. The paid plans have a 15 day free trial and require no credit card to sign up. Oddly, the free plan does require credit card information but promises you’ll never be charged.

According to Entrepreneur (March 2013 issue), AirTime for Email launched about a year ago and currently has 300 paid and free customers. The cost to run the service is low, however, and they’re likely already profitable. That means they’ll be around for a while – or bought out. Nothing worse than finding a solution to an annoying problem and then it’s gone. But just in case, take a look at their blog devoted to those “advanced” methods for creating email

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signatures in Outlook (makes an AirTime for Email account look pretty good…).

Gmail in the Office

Life before Gmail Remember life before Gmail? Exchange servers, outlook, thunderbird, *IT* departments, IMAP, POP3, SMTP... *ugh*. Then don't be evil Google came along with a beta project called Gmail in 2004 which changed the way we did email. Its ease of use and powerful features won most of us over for our personal accounts. But what about our work email?

What many don't know is that you can set up your corporate CRE email with Google Apps Gmail so you can ditch that rusty old email software.

Check out this step-by-step guide for setting up your email address with Google Apps: CoffeeCup: Set Up Gmail with your own Domain or this instructional youtube video:

In upcoming segments, I'll show you how to become a Gmail Ninja with powerful plug-ins for commercial real estate and how to reach Gmail Zen with Inbox Zero.

How does your office manage email?

Stop paying $1000s for aerials, there's an app for that...

freeflight As flight technology becomes more advanced and affordable, it will begin to put a dent in the pockets of the aerial photographers I used to pay $1000s to shoot custom aerials.

You can actually control an AR.Drone from any Android or iPhone device. Here is the app's description on iTunes:

Discover and pilot the Parrot AR.Drone and AR.Drone 2.0 from Parrot using the new application, AR.FreeFlight 2.2.

INTUITIVE – Download AR.FreeFlight 2.2, the free control application, and you are ready to fly! By tilting your iPhone, iPod or iPad you control the direction of your AR.Drone. When you release control, the AR.Drone is instantly stabilized in the air. AR.FreeFlight 2.2 is compatible with the Parrot AR.Drone and the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0

FLY LIKE A CHAMPION – The AR.Drone is equipped with intuitive sensors that allow it to remain stable in the air, virtually flying itself. Anyone can fly like a champion as the embedded sensors allow for easy take-off and landing. With the AR.Drone 2.0 and AR.FreeFlight 2.2, you can access the exclusive and patented Absolute Control piloting mode for beginners that can be adjusted with your growing expertise.

RECORD HIGH DEFINITION VIDEO - As you fly, the HD video is recorded and sent via WiFi directly to your device after you land. With one click, upload your video from the user-friendly interface seamlessly to Youtube or share your pictures on Picasa.

While the app has received relatively negative reviews, I would guess there are still some kinks which need to be worked out. That said, this technological advancement will be a disruptive force to the aerial photography industry.

Here is an AR.Drone in action:

Maybe the air is the next frontier for Google Maps...

QSView: Instant Google Street View

We've posted on Google Street View before, but just ran across this app last night. QSView allows you immediately generate a view like the one below, in a full web browser.

 
View this in QS View

OfficeDrop - DropBox on Steroids

If you’re getting frustrated with the lack of features in your cloud storage service, check out OfficeDrop. Described as a complete document storage solution, you get full cloud search, right click folders to

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sync (instead of moving or copying them to a separate location), direct scanning with OCR (Optical Character Recognition/converts to searchable text), document email uploads and advanced sharing options are some of the features OfficeDrop includes.

Like the other services, there’s a free version. It includes 2 GB of storage but puts some limits on some of the features. There’s a search result limit of the top 3 results only, 50 pages of OCR scanning and a file size limit of 1 GB. The Personal plan, at $9.95 per month, gives you unlimited search, 20GB of space, a 2GB file size limit plus 1000 OCR pages. There’s also a home plan ($24.95/month) with more of everything and multi-user plans that start at $44.95/month.

The software works on Windows or Mac and there are apps for Android and iPhone/iPad. And, OfficeDrop integrates with GoogleApps, Evernote and several other services like FreshBooks.

Some of the reviews note that the camera in OfficeDrop produces fuzzy images in the Android app version but the developers are on it. Other than that, it gets good grades for interface and functionality.

GMail Contact Sync with LinkedIn and Twitter

Some of CRE's most relevant bloggers continue to pin articles on how they've leveraged their social media network and contacts. Here are a couple great posts on the topic: 16 Ways I Use LinkedIn for Commercial Real Estate Duke Long, March 27, 2011

Twitter Appears to be the Social Media of Choice for CRE Service Providers Coy Davidson, April 4, 2011

My ROI on Social Media for 2012 Patrick Braswell, October 4, 2012

Heck, ICSC even has a Social Media Pavilion.

So, you've got 500+ connections on LinkedIn and another 1,000 followers on Twitter, good for you. How can you keep 1,500+ social media contacts straight?

Insightly has an answer: Get a CRM tool which can integrate these connections into your contacts so that you can nurture these lead sources even further.

Take a look how easy it is.

Google Voice - Free Calls/Texts/Transcribed Voicemail

I am trying to think of the last time I dialed my voicemail inbox on my cell phone. It probably was around January 2009 when I switched from a Blackberry device to my first Android powered smartphone. For whatever reason I find dialing and navigating my voicemail system just a huge inconvenience and it really sucks the life out of me! Because of this, one of my top favorite apps of all time is Google Voice. Google Voice has to be one of the most powerful, underutilized apps on the market. It is available on Android, iOS, and Blackberry.

Features List

  • Make free calls and free text messages to anyone in the US & Cananda
  • Make low priced international calls
  • Voicemails are automatically transcribed to text so you can read them like email
  • Integrates with your phone's native address book and Google Contacts
  • Set up different greetings for different callers
  • Access Google Voice anywhere
  • Choose a custom Google Voice phone number

Let's look at a few of these a bit closer.

Free Calls and Text messaging

Do you cringe ever month you review your cell phone bill? Sick of pay extra for features like text messaging? Ever wanted two phone lines on one phone? Maybe a business and personal line? You may want to consider Google Voice. You can choose a custom phone number that you can use for business or personal and the best part is, it cost's no money for calls or text messages within the US or Canada. Yes you have to start over with a new number but depending on your bill you can save anywhere from $50 to a couple hundred dollars a month. On a shared family plan? Get each family member on Google Voice and drop the plan to the cheapest one available!

Transcribed Voicemails

When someone leaves a voicemail, instead of dialing and listening to the recording, Google Voice transcribes the audio to text and it will show up in your Google Voice app. From there you can read it, or click on the play button to play the voice message directly from the app. No more dialing your voicemail! You can save, delete, or leave the message their for later.

Access Google Voice Anywhere

Obviously you can access it from your phone via the application or the mobile web app. But you can also access it from your tablet. So you can be in a very important meeting using your tablet for note taking, receive a phone call, check and read the voicemail, without anyone every knowing! You can also access Google Voice through your Gmail account via the Internet. Do you Google Chrome as your primary Internet browser? Well there is a Google Voice Chrome Extension. Yes you can check your voicemail, and return the phone call, all from your desk using Google Chrome without every taking your cell phone out of your pocket.

If you're anything like me you probably already thought of 10 different scenarios where Google Voice would improve your smartphone experience. It's a huge commitment to switch without knowing if you're going to like it or not. My suggestion would be to team up with a few co-workers or friends and test it out. With those people only use Google Voice. Try testing out all the features. Make a call from your smartphone, tablet, Gmail inbox, Chrome extension. Meet that group for lunch after the two weeks and discuss the pros and cons. Ultimately you are going to have to decide if its best for you.

Click here to download the app for Android

Click here to download the app for iOS

Do you use Google Voice? If so, I'd love to hear how!

Google Maps Begins to Include Indoor Imagery

Using Google Maps, users can now see indoors. Here is an example of a Google Business Tour:

View Larger Map

From what we can tell, business owners cannot upload their own tours, but rather, must engage a Trusted Photographer.

This is a shame because it would be cool if users could upload their own 360° Panos to Google Maps. Maybe Google could provide a way to filter out user-submitted content, if the viewer prefers less "professional" tours be excluded?....

While the user-submitted 360° pano tours would not be as interactive as the Professional "walkable" version, it would be a great way for Google to begin to build more indoor content.

It'd also be an awesome way to keep The CRE Map Wars raging...

Mobile App for Group Video Conferencing

Do you get jealous when you participate in someone’s webinar that uses high tech video conferencing software? Wish you could have access to a similar application to conduct team meetings, client presentations, even virtual property tours to an out-of-state client, but without the high cost? Well, do you have a Gmail account?

Then you have access to Google+. Yes that “ghost town” social media site that Google released almost a year ago. Regardless of how popular the social media site is, we can all use some features of Google + on a daily basis  in our industry. The best feature of Google+ is the very powerful, and more importantly, FREE, video conferencing software called Google+ Hangouts.

Application highlights:

  • Include up to 10 people in one Google+ Hangout
  • Screen share capabilities for any participant
  • Integration with Google Docs to allow real time video group collaboration to create and edit documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc.
  • Share and watch a YouTube
  • Integration with third party apps like, Cacoo, which allows real time diagram and flowchart collaboration
  • Record your Hangout and post it to your YouTube channel to share with clients

Our company uses Google+ Hangouts to conduct weekly team meetings, team training sessions, and we are looking at how to integrate recorded presentations into our website.

There is a desktop application available as well as a mobile application for Android and iOS devices. Video conferencing works across all platforms so a handful of users can be on their desktops in the office while the other handful are out in the field on their mobile devices.

Sign in and start a Hangout today!

Click here for a link to the Google Play Store

Click here for a link to the iTunes Apple Store

We've seen the future.... of Real Estate Flyers

In 2010, Duke Long proclaimed, "Commercial Real Estate Must Kill the PDF."

YES, IT IS TIME! Why? We sit here every day and get our inbox BLASTED with how many e-mail PDF’s of property from sources all over the world? What is the point?

The time has come indeed. And if flyer.io has anything to do with it, it will be sooner, rather than later.

"How?!" you say? Well, can a PDF do this?

  1. Include a 360° virtual tour? Nope, but Flyer.io can...
  2. Incorporate a live Google map? Nope, but Flyer.io can...
  3. Include a live Google Street View? Nope, but Flyer.io can...

Don't believe us? Check out a live demo, or the video above. It is pretty cool.

Flyer.io +1; PDF 0.

Trust us, we'll be keeping score...

Customized Mobile Websites & QR Codes

I am sure everyone by now has heard of QR (quick response) codes. There are several free websites that allow people to generate a free QR code but almost all lack in assisting to deliver content that is optimized for a mobile device. Typically one would have to hire web developers to re-engineer their website to deliver a rich mobile user experience. Until recently.. Scan, Inc. is a college tech start-up that was founded in 2011 and has made a big entrance into the tech scene thus far. They have been featured in many magazines and news media outlets for their innovative and simple design and delivery.

They have created a way to develop fast, customized, professional, and functional mobile websites. These sites are accessed through scanning a QR code which they generate for you and allow you to customize.

How can you use this in CRE? Create a QR code for each property. Prospective purchasers and tenants can scan the QR code while on-site and have instant access to valuable information like a marketing brochure or the listing agents contact information. You can almost customize it to deliver what ever you want and it's all delivered in a format optimized for mobile viewing. Here is an example of a basic property profile page.

You can also create a virtual business card and have all of your professional and social links in one place. Here is the one I’ve created for myself.

With each QR code you generate, Scan has created a dashboard where you can easily edit and monitor the performance of each QR code. You can know how many scans your QR code is getting on a daily basis and where they are coming from. Easy to understand analytics help you make better business decisions.

Scan, Inc has developed a free, top of the line QR code scanner app available on iOS and Android platforms. Head to their website to start creating your own personalized mobile websites and QR codes Scan.me Link. Click the links below to head to your platforms app market to download their QR code scanner app.

Download this app: Android | iPhone

Don't forget to share other ways how you think we can optimize this technology in CRE in the comments section!

Electronic confidentiality agreements for all

CRE Console has built a great little electronic confidentiality agreement application which anyone can use for free. After creating an account, it only takes 3 steps to automate the entire investor registration process using the same old PDF confidentiality agreement you've always used. How do they do it? Here's how they explain it:

How does our Electronic Confidentiality Agreement service automate the investor registration process?

  1. Upload your standard PDF confidentiality agreement into our form.
  2. Enter the lead broker’s contact information.
  3. Copy and paste our unique URL where ever you need it.

What does the form look like once it is uploaded into their electronic format?

What happens next?

  1. Investors can sign your CA form electronically directly in their browser. No printers, pens or fax machines required.
  2. After signing the the eCA, the investor will be redirected to wherever you chose, like your website, the property’s website, or even the property’s flyer or OM.
  3. Every time a new CA is signed, we’ll email you their contact information, digital signature and IP address.
  4. We’ll also send the investor an email with the information they submitted, along with the lead broker’s contact information, in case they have any questions.

What else does this feature allow me to do?

  • Access your account anywhere, anytime; the system is 100% cloud-based.
  • Export a list of every investor who has signed the CA with their full contact information into Excel.
  • Create an unlimited number of electronic agreements.

What is cool is that you can embed this link anywhere (for instance on any Loopnet posting) to direct investors to sign a CA for more information, so that you can kick your unhealthy addiction to the fax machine.

Then, use the app's auto-responder to provide all the information you would like to give them until they've been more thoroughly qualified.

Interested? You can sign up now to start using this app for free.

*CRE Console is a sponsor of this blog

Google Now: The stalker girlfriend you always wanted

As voice recognition virtual assistants become more prevalent (i.e. Siri and its Android alternatives), what's the next step? With Google Now, Google appears to be making the attempt to leapfrog apps which solely focus on improving the quality and reliability of the recognition software, by building an application which anticipates what you need. In other words, if successful, Google would effectively remove the "Voice" from "Voice Recognition". A recent c|net article goes into more detail:

"Google Now gets you just the right information at just the right time, and all of it happens at the right time," Barra said. For example, "Google Now figures out when you commute from home to work and back, tells you how long your commute takes usually, and give you a faster route if there's lot of traffic. On public transit, if you're on the platform at a subway, Google tells you when the next bus or train will arrive."

It'll also show nearby restaurants when you're walking down the street, and what a restaurant is famous for, he said. It'll tell you sports results based on teams you've shown interest in before. And it's tied into the calendar.

"If you have a calendar appointment, Google will help you get there on time. Google will tell you how long it'll take you to walk to the bus stop, when the next bus will arrive, and how long that bus ride will take," he said.

It could be compared to a stalker (ex?)girlfriend who has that eerie ability to always know exactly where you are and what you're doing....

At this point, I bet some of you are asking, "How does this relate to CRE?!"

Google Now

Well, the next time you're out of town and have back-to-back-to-back meetings, it may come in handy.

Clip-on Lenses for Your Cell Phone Camera

With the generous megapixels in most new cell phone cameras, for most purposes there’s no need to carry a separate digital camera. But as with most cameras the basic lens might not be the best for taking building shots. For horizontally oriented buildings for example, you need to stand at such a distance that you end up with a strip of the building between a large swath of sky and parking lot. You could use a panoramic photo app but images from them end up an odd size – long and narrow. Fine for some applications but they won’t fit well on typical aggregator sites. So consider getting clip on lenses for your phone. For iPhone 4/4s users, there’s the Olloclip (available at amazon.com).

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Android (and iPhone) users can check out lenses at PhotoJoJo.

I tried out the Olloclip for the iPhone. Two sets of lenses are attached to a piece that slides over the camera lens. You’ll get a fisheye lens one one side that captures a 180 degree field of view. Flip it around to use the wide-angle lens that captures about 10-20% more than the normal lens field of view. The wide-angle lens adjusts to a macro lens for close-ups, too. They’re shipped with lens covers and a carrying bag which doubles as a lens wipe. And the whole package easily fits in your pocket.

Images with these lenses will have some degree of distortion – the fisheye lens producing a circular photo which can be cropped into a rectangular shape. Take a look at the photos below to see the difference.

Photos taken with Olloclip...cre app review

You will need to take your phone cover over. The Ollocip won’t fit over even the slimmest case and the PhotoJoJo lenses attache magnetically. Both are reasonably priced and with the PhotoJoJo lenses, you can buy just the ones you want instead of the whole package.

Get out of the office with Google Street View

One of the apps I use on a daily basis is Google Street View. It is rare to find an application which is multi-dimensional in the sense that it can serve such a wide range of needs - on both mobile and desktop.

Google Street View is embedded in most mobile mapping applications and allows users to preview landmarks on the way to an unfamiliar destination.

The Google Street View can also be embedded into any website and can be extremely useful for property listing websites.

View Larger Map

Google is now going indoors to map things like malls and airports.

If your property websites don't have Google Street View capabilities, it is time to switch providers.

DropBox vs. iCloud: In it to win it?

Over the last week or two, I've read several articles on how Apple is angling to go head-to-head with DropBox with such vigor that DropBox risks never seeing another Apple user sign up for its service. Pandodaily's Farhad Majoo, Steve Jobs was right: Dropbox is a feature, not a product:

Dropbox is one of the few genuinely delightful tools I use regularly, and I’m constantly recommending it to friends and family.

And yet I’m extremely skeptical about Dropbox’s business prospects, and totally puzzled by the high hopes that otherwise smart people have pinned on its success. Dropbox is a great little file-syncing app, and founder Drew Houston and crew are already making some nice money out of it. But is it a $40 billion company? I doubt it.

More from TechCrunch, Apple’s iCloud Is No Dropbox Killer (It’s Much More):

The idea, of course, is not novel. It’s what startups like Dropbox are doing today: making a drive that appears like any other, but that can be accessed from any machine. While on the surface, it’s easy to dub iCloud “Apple’s version of Dropbox,” the truth is actually more complex: it’s about building a new computing paradigm.

So, while we can all agree that DropBox is a great service, how does iCloud intend on edging it out? Farhad Majoo goes on to say:

In its current form, Dropbox is great at syncing stuff that I’ve saved to my filesystem, but there’s a lot more to device syncing than just what I’ve stored in data files. When I switch from my desktop to laptop to my phone to my tablet, I would really like my device’s “state” to follow me, not just my files.

When I later opened up my MacBook Air, I could access the Word file and my text notepad through Dropbox. But I had to make my computer do so. In a perfect syncing scenario, my laptop would know what I had been doing on my desktop and would offer to open up the right windows for me, preferably in the identical places on the screen—but Dropdox doesn’t do that. Worse, Dropbox can’t sync my Chrome and IM activity in any way.[...]

I can think of many other things that would be great to keep synced between devices: Desktop icons and images, peripheral drivers (so that when I connect a camera to my work computer, my home computer recognizes it too), and application preferences (I like my Word documents set to 180 percent zoom).

Watching the above iCloud Harmony TV commercial, Apple aims to do exactly this. From a recent TechCrunch article covering the ad:

The genius of iCloud is that once it’s setup, the service runs with virtually zero user interaction. But the current incarnation is still pretty limited. What Apple shows in the video above is pretty much all it can do. However, with Mountain Lion, iCloud is set to become a robust cloud service with a feature set rivaling that of even Dropbox. For better or worse, it’s going to be deeply baked into OS X and able to sync most anything between a user’s Apple devices[...]

As it stands now, it may be nearly (if not down right) impossible for DropBox to provide its users the same experience. More thoughts from Farhad Majoo:

Dropbox is probably working to build many of these features as well. But as third-party app, it’s just not in a very good technical position to do so. In order to sync programs and window states, Dropbox would need access to some of the deeper parts of my various gadgets’ OSes. This is easy for some operating systems and impossible with others—including iOS and probably Amazon’s Kindle Fire. Apple could easily build a way to sync the current browser tabs between my Mac and my iPhone, so that I can switch from reading Pando on my couch to reading it on the train. Dropbox will need to go through incredible hacks to achieve the same functionality, and it probably won’t manage to do so even then.

So, what does this mean for CRE industry professionals? Well, not a lot in the near term, as iCloud is more of a personal assistant than an application which you'd regularly use to share business files with clients.

I, for one, prefer to maintain separation between my personal files and my work files. And the easiest way to do this is to simply use two separate services (i.e. iCloud for personal and DropBox for work). But, in the long run, DropBox will most likely have to change its pricing model or add new and exciting features... Again, Farhad Majoo:

Dropbox makes money by charging people for increased storage space. But the price of storage keeps plummeting. It’s tending toward free. With all the competition it faces from firms with huge data centers, Dropbox isn’t going to be able to get people to keep paying $10 a month for 50 GB of space for many more years to come. It needs to add extra capabilities, too.

DropBox has positioned itself as consumer product, rather than an enterprise solution, like Box has. As the market evolves, personal file storage and syncing will most likely be fulfilled by companies who offer gigabytes of space as a complimentary feature to an existing product line. Think Apple's iCloud, Amazon's Cloud Drive and Google's GDrive (at some point).

Sure, not everyone uses Apple devices, so there will certainly be demand for other service providers in the short term. But, as it relates to mobility, if you don't use iOS, you're probably using Android. With Google and Amazon dominating that space, where will this leave DropBox?...