As the use of smartphones grows at an exponential rate, more and more apps are popping up, including one that has tapped into a previously unserved market–student housing. Campus Apartments’ SmartClick Mobile became available in mid-November, edging out the competition for the title of the very first student housing app by several weeks.
According to data released in October by global information and measurement provider the Nielsen Company, 29.7 percent of mobile users in the United States have smartphones in their hands. Despite the increasing prevalence of apps for the device, somehow, student housing had gone ignored until two industry leaders took note and took action. Campus Apartments and competitor, Asset Campus Housing, initiated plans to fill the void with their respective apps, SmartClick Mobile and ACH app. But with ACH’s product scheduled to debut on January 1, it is Campus Apartment’s SmartClick that holds the distinction of being the first to launch a student housing app.
“We recognize that residents of student housing, more so than residents of any other sector of the multifamily housing industry, demand the most advanced technology amenities,” Andrew Marshall, chief information officer of Campus Apartments, said in a prepared statement. The SmartClick app, based on Campus Apartments’ SmartClick web portal, allows residents at all of the properties in the company’s portfolio–which encompasses an aggregate 27,000 beds spanning 25 states–to use an iPhone or Android to arrange automatic rent payments, make payments via credit card and submit requests for maintenance.
Campus Apartments’ SmartClick can be downloaded free of charge, and ACH’s app will not cost a dime either; however, there are differences between the two apps. SmartClick can be accessed from an iPhone and Android, but ACH app is designed to accommodate only iPhones initially. As per the Nielsen study, 35.9 percent of 18-24 year-olds with mobile devices use iPhones, and 32 percent use Android; Blackberry trails at 11 percent.
While ACH app is limited in terms of mobile device compatibility compared to SmartClick, it is less restricted than its competitor in terms of the features that are being marketed. ACH has designed its app to revolutionize the leasing process for occupants already renting at one of its properties–the company’s portfolio consists of over 30,000 beds across the U.S.–as well as for those in the process of searching for student apartment housing. Come the first of the year, current ACH residents will be able to access up-to-date news on social activities at their apartment communities, and they will be able to perform such tasks as making rent payments or requesting maintenance service. As for prospective residents, ACH app will serve as a portal to ACH property photos, floor plans, rental rates, interactive maps, contact details and information on the company.
Given the trends in the mobile device arena, many more student housing property owners and developers will soon follow Campus Apartments and ACH’s lead. In March, Nielsen predicted that by the end of 2011, smartphones will overtake feature phones in the United States.