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Realtors can probably do without iPad mini

New device more about consuming media than creating it

Apple introduced the iPad mini and various other new products at a special event ast week at the historic California Theatre in San Jose.

Some of the new products unveiled included a new ultra-thin iMac, a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display and the 4th-generation iPad. However, the big news was certainly the debut of the long-rumored iPad mini.

The iPad mini officially goes on sale November 2nd with pricing starting at $329. The touch screen is 7.9 inches diagonally, slightly larger than other small tablets such as the Amazon Kindle Fire HD, which sports a 7-inch tablet screen.

During the product launch, I was reminded of Steve Jobs initial thoughts on smaller tablets. Jobs once said 7-inch tablets are "tweeners" — too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with the iPad. Jobs even called 7-inch tablets "dead on arrival."

At the time, I recall asking myself, "Do I really need a product that fits in somewhere between my MacBook Pro, 10-inch iPad and iPhone?" My answer then was the same as today: No, I really don’t. I don’t believe Realtors do either.

Apple has sold 100 million iPads since its inception. The iPad is a smashing success and has redefined the post-PC era. It has also had a tremendous impact on the real estate industry.

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Real estate pros use the device for email, browsing the web, tracking open house attendance, and creating listing presentations. According to Apple, 91 percent of tablet-generated Web traffic comes from the iPad. This has become pretty evident in most brokers’ Web analytics. Consumers use the iPad to search for properties, research data, and consume multimedia.

Despite the success of the iPad, Apple struggled with the perception that the tablet was strictly a device to consume content, rather than create it. Apple combated this notion with heavy marketing and advertising campaigns such as the "Do it All" television ads that show iPad users creating movies, artwork and corporate presentations.

Whether you’re creating presentations in Keynote, taking notes in Evernote or using a really cool native app, the iPad provides a wonderful user experience. The iPad mini is a device created to compete in the marketplace against other 7-inch tablets, such as Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire. It’s a consumer device for watching videos, playing games and of course, accessing iTunes content.

Many analysts predicted a backlash against the $329 starting point, which is significantly more expensive than the competition. However, in typical Apple fashion, the company is out to prove the critics wrong.

All Things D reported that preorders for Apple’s new iPad mini sold out after just three days.

"Order a Wi-Fi-only model now, and it won’t ship for another two weeks," the blog reported. "No word yet on just how many iPad minis Apple has sold, though we’ll likely hear something from the company after the device becomes available for purchase at its retail stores this Friday."

You still have to ask, at what point do Realtors have enough gadgets? Don’t get me wrong, I am a technologist who loves the latest and greatest electronics. But do Realtors really need a laptop for home and the office, a 10-inch tablet for listing appointments, a 7-inch tablet for watching videos while relaxing on the couch, an e-reader for library books, a smartphone for apps, and a flip phone to actually make phone calls?.

I’m being somewhat facetious. However, real estate pros should identify a couple of tools and gadgets that improve their workflow and have a positive impact on their business.

Do you agree or disagree? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Tom Flanagan is the director of information technology at Residential Properties Ltd. in Providence, R.I. You can contact him at tflanagan@residentialproperties.com or @tflan on Twitter.

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