Now in its 90th year of existence (and not looking a day older than 89), Barfoot & Thompson is embracing the wild world of mobile with its recently launched iPad app simply called Barfoot.
According to IT manager Stephen Barfoot, a quarter of the company's web traffic is from mobile devices and half of that from iPads specifically. Barfoot already has a mobile optimised website.
"The inference from the website traffic is our customers want more mobile ways of looking for properties online," he says.
The app takes information stored in Barfoot's vast properties database and displays it contextually on a map. This includes photos and video of the property, agent info, school zone information and floor plans. It's not exactly groundbreaking stuff, but the experience is fluid and well suited to the tablet environment. Barfoot says modern house hunters have come to expect this level of interactivity when using mobile apps.
The software has been in development on and off for two years, since the second generation iPad was released. The biggest challenge was creating an API connecting Barfoot's various databases to the app in a way that could be repurposed later for other digital projects, including a potential Android version in the future.
"It was an enormous amount of work. I don't think there was a single back end system that wasn't touched along the way," says Barfoot.
The bulk of the API work was done by Kiwi tech giant Datacom, while the app was developed by Jandal Software which also worked on ASB's Property Guide iPhone app.
Barfoot is launching an ad campaign created by Big this week to promote the app, part of which involves collateral printed on takeaway coffee cups in cafes across Auckland.
Barfoot won't say how many downloads the app has had since its launch last week.