Archive for the ‘New Products’ Category

By Building Experts Team
home light automation iphone e1375373532997 Home Connectivity Caters to New Homebuyers

Photo courtesy of

As the housing market continues to grow, builders and realtors are faced with meeting the demands of the new generation of homebuyers. According to a 2013 Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate survey of the 18-35 year old demographic, 84 percent believe technology is an absolute home essential and 64-percent would not live in a home that was not up-to-date with the latest tech capabilities.

Builders and home hardware manufacturers must find ways to cater to this generation that values technology over curb appeal and home automation over a newly renovated kitchen. These smart home systems have the stigma of being expensive luxury items, which may not succeed with this new audience. Instead, they should focus on what resonates with this group: technology, energy efficiency and convenience.

Smartphones should be at the center of this trend, providing an almost universal remote for users to control home functions such as temperature, lighting, blinds, door locks and more. As a generation that is constantly connected to their phones or tablets, controlling home systems through smartphones provides the ultimate convenience.

By Matt Bivons

The app economy is booming. Actually, booming may be an understatement; it’s exploding. The mobile app ecosystem is poised to continue an exponential growth rate for the unforeseeable future. According to the App Developers Alliance “The market for mobile apps is growing, and growing fast. Innovation and strong businesses are driving that growth but we are all benefiting from it. Better apps, better services and more opportunity for businesses to thrive is good for us all.”

By Social Marketing Team

The biggest trend of this week cannot be anything other than the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. While it may be lacking the “newness” this year, there’s no shortage of technology.

We have been watching the show closely as each innovative technology was introduced this week. Here are the five products that captured our attention, products that will appeal to builders, designers and homeowners alike.

  1. Steelcase introduces media:scape mini & mobile, new tools that heighten collaboration & interaction. – Custer (@Custeronline)
  2. NetChef turns Android into a kitchen appliance – CNET News (@CnetNews)
  3. Dropcam’s Wi-Fi Video Monitoring Camera with Night Vision Provides Peace of Mind When On the Go – Screen Media Daily (@MotionStream)
  4. Belkin WeMo looks to make home automation simple, all controlled from your iPhone or iPad – iMore (@iMore)
  5. Nearly every device in your house, from your television to your refrigerator, is going to be networked and could very well be Android –powered – CNET (@CNET)

With so much news this week from the Show, what stood out for you?

By Social Marketing Team

The short answer? Nothing.

The long answer? Get ready for a game-changer.

Since Google launched Google+, its new social network on June 28, the social marketing community has produced a tidal wave of coverage and commentary about the search engine giant’s first successful step – leap really – into social media.

Why? Because within three weeks Google+ has surpassed 10 million members and is demonstrating a strong capacity for prompting users to share content in a way that drives referring visits to top-tier news sites.

Let’s streamline things, shall we? What does Google+ actually mean to brands looking to build or extend their social marketing presence? Let’s start with the basics.

What is Google+?

Google+ is both a social network in its own right, and a socially-powered layer overhanging Google’s existing web services, namely Google Search, Gmail, GoogleDocs, YouTube and Google +1, but soon to include GoogleApps, Picassa, GoogleReader and the dozens of other services Google provides to users.

What’s the value proposition?

Google is attempting to bring a new philosophy to social connectivity, combining the popular features common to social media (friend networking, link sharing, location-sharing, object rating, etc) with a new emphasis on privacy, context and integration; three areas where the leading social networking giants like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Foursquare often struggle. The concept is abstract, but powerful nonetheless, as shown in this video from Google announcing the launch of Google+:

Where are the opportunities for brands?

Officially, there are none right now. Several brands, most notably Ford, pounced on Google+ invites in the first week and immediately started publishing updates. But Google quickly put a stop to this, explaining to brands that Google+ profiles are for individuals only, and that a comprehensive solution for their needs will be launched as soon as the Google+ user base has grown to a reasonable size.

To smooth things over with prominent brands and keep anticipation high, Google released a video articulating their belief that: “The business experience we are creating should far exceed the consumer profile in terms of its usefulness to businesses. We just ask for your patience while we build it.” They also offered brands the chance to take part in a pilot program to test out whenever the Google+ business solution is launched. The video below states Google’s official stance towards brand participation in Google+.

What action should brands take on Google+ right now?

Google+ represents a potential – and I emphasize the term potential – watershed for social marketing. In only three weeks, the service has demonstrated:

  1. An extraordinary capacity to grow its membership virally, as the social network will likely reach 20 million members by the time it turns 1-month old. At its current rate of growth, Google+ could rival Twitter in size by early 2012.
  2. An exceptional skill at driving referring traffic to top-tier websites. Google+ members are sharing over 1 billion items each day, and many leading news outlets have already seen Google+ crack their top ten sources of referring traffic.

That being said, Google+ is still in its infancy. There are many serious obstacles that it must surmount over the next few months to demonstrate that it is even sustainable as a network, to say nothing of being valuable to brands, profitable as a business or a rival to Facebook.

At IMRE, we are counseling our clients to take two initial steps with Google+:

  1. Devote time to learning about what Google+ is offering is individual members. The new social network certainly has an appeal, and studying how users interact with it and what draws them to the service can reap huge rewards down the road when developing a social marketing strategy for the platform.
  2. Begin to set aside time and resources for a thorough review of Google+ in late 2011 – Just in time for the social network to mature and the 2012 budget planning season to start. Tell your social marketing teams and agencies that you want to assess the viability of Google+ in late 2011, and that you want to see a clear recommendation about whether or not the new social network will support your core business and marketing strategies.

How Should Brands Assess Google+?

At IMRE, we always encourage our clients to assess a social marketing channel using six criteria, and an analysis of Google+ should take the same format:

  1. Audience – Is your target audience on Google+? What are they using it for? Is there an opportunity to add value to the conversation? Is there a threat to engaging with them?
  2. Connectivity Tools – Does Google+ offer audiences the tools necessary to share your content with others? Who will they share it with? Is their sharing and engagement measurable?
  3. Connectivity Barriers – Where does Google+ limit your brand or the ability of your audiences to share your content? Are these barriers surmountable? How?
  4. Functionality – What will Google+ allow your brand to do on the service? Will you be provided with the features necessary to forge a strong connection with your audience? Can your other marketing initiatives be extending into Google+ without risk and with maximum benefit?
  5. Terms of Use – What will Google+ not allow your brand to do on the service (contests, sweepstakes, direct messages)? Are these restrictions deal-breakers for you?
  6. Analytics – Will your Google+ marketing strategy be measurable? What insights will Google+ provide you? Are these metrics more or less helpful than those offered by other social platforms?

An iPad to Build With

By Building Experts Team

ipad An iPad to Build With

Not sure if you heard yet, but this week Apple announced the release of their 2010 cash cow, the iPad. We see the iPad having a laundry list of applications across many industries and even more so just for fun. Due to the portable nature and intuitive design, the iPad has the potential for a bright future in the building industry, that is assuming you can protect it.  Think of the possibilities.

wwwapple 300x185 An iPad to Build With With the introduction of the iPad, Apple is reporting around 140,000 apps from the iTunes App Store will translate to the new tablet format along with the development of new apps specially designed for iPad. This comes at a time when a growing group of home improvement and building materials companies are developing special applications, such as Lumber Liquidators, on which Home Channel News recently reported.

We thought it would be fun to mix up some apps that are currently available with some that we see as having a nice application to the building industry. Once you’ve read through, send us your guesses as to which are legit and which will begin development after this post goes live. Oh, and no peeking at the App Store for help!

Building Terms Dictionary – A quick study of all industry jargon and acronyms. This pocket reference compiles over 500 of the most commonly used terms from LEED to ICF.

LEED AP Building Design + Construction – The application includes 200 flash cards and a 100 question practice exam for the LEED AP Building Design + Construction exam. The practice exam includes reference notes and can be completed over multiple sessions.

Architect’s Formulator – The perfect tool for any Architect, this app combines formulas for Electrical, Carpentry, Plumbing, Concrete and Excavation. It aids users in computing such details as calculating the loads on walls and beams, kilowatts, horsepower, cost of hardwood flooring among many others.

Materials Inventory Tracker – Keep track of how many pieces of each material/product is needed for a specific job. Not only does this tool track product quantities, it also tabulates the total in dollars for each for easy reference when quoting jobs.

Pocket Developer – An innovative app designed to quickly evaluate the high level numbers in commercial development projects. Pocket Developer provides a quick calculation of land costs, allowing the user to move seamlessly between acres and square feet.

Product Locator – Tired of calling your distributor to find out what products are available where? This app allows users to choose a specific type of product and enter a zip code, generating a list of all local suppliers.

So do you see this working in your field of work? We’d be interested in your thoughts.

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