targets iPad collaborators

Over the past year or so, I’ve talked several times about iPhone applications and collaboration in the architecture, engineering and construction, AEC, space. I have seen prototype stand-alone products developed purely for the iPhone (eg: Smartbuilderpost), but most tools have been developed by existing construction collaboration technology providers and extend their platforms to iPhone users, either via a downloadable application or by enabling mobile web access via a smartphone’s browser – for example (in alphabetical order):

And there are apparently more in the pipeline, including one from Aconex. But, apart from suggestions that the iPhone apps will quickly be extended to support iPad users, I hadn’t heard of any iPad-specific apps. That is, until today, when I came across a link to California-based Construction Connect Inc (a start-up established in 2008 by former electrical contractor Chris Ross).

CCI launched its Software-as-a-Service platform, Build It Live, earlier this year (background) and it appears to replicate most of the functions and repeat most of the potential benefits of existing SaaS products in the market. The associated iPad app, MobilePlanRoom, was launched in June 2010 (release), allowing iPad users to access Build It Live from their tablets.

Build It Live is said to be easy-to-use and affordable (just US$35/month per project), and targeted at smaller construction companies, construction project managers, engineers and architects. As the AEC industry is dominated by small- to medium-sized enterprises, the pricing will be attractive to this SME market, and – as far as the iPad market is concerned – SMEs may also have fewer reservations about this application than larger businesses with substantial, centralised ICT departments.

I have had several interesting conversations about iPhone (and by implication, iPad) applications for construction collaboration. Some of the construction people I talk to think they are doomed to failure as many corporates haven’t accepted iPhones as professional tools within their businesses – preferring to support smartphone platforms such as Blackberry or Windows, or holding out for Android to become a dominant platform. But there are also many iPhone-fans who are keen to get Apple-approved tools to support their day-to-day work (I have also talked previously about Woobius Eye, a beta iPhone app developed by architects for architects and others, for example), and this enthusiasm is extending to AEC iPad users too (sometimes they are seen as such desirable tools that people buy them themselves and use them for work even they are not officially approved). And there is recognition that we can’t always rely on using web-based interfaces, particularly in remote locations or in enclosed spaces, etc where mobile telecommunication is impossible.

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1 ping

    • Marcus on 3 December 2010 at 3:20 am

    As the President of BuilditLive, I’d only take exception to the comment that BuilditLive ‘replicates and repeats’ what some other solutions offer. Part of what makes us different is what we DON’T offer. We don’t offer estimating functionality, we don’t schedule projects, we don’t manage time cards — we are not project management software. All we do is construction document management. For small-to-medium AECs, it is this last mile of communication that is so broken today and where their core need lies. Today most of the industry relies on email to communicate thousands of ever-changing documents on a single project. We greatly reduce the reliance on email by centralizing documents and making them accessible 24×7 from any computer.
    BuilditLive requires no installation of software, requires no training, and you pay as you go. For $35 per month per project you get unlimited users and 2GB of storage (2,000+ documents). Unlike some ‘free’ solutions, we plan to be around a long time and aren’t reliant on advertising to generate revenue. And unlike some generic solutions, BuilditLive is designed just for construction. Users don’t have to develop their own file structures and document organization – we’ve done all that.
    We’ve made BuilditLive super intuitive to use. In fact, 99%+ of users never receive any training but use it successfully.
    We’ve got customers signing up all around the world (which is easy since you pay with a credit card). And once we close our current round of capital raising we’ll be expanding into to some very exciting areas.
    I’d be glad to arrange an online demo for anyone. Just send me an email:

    • Paul on 3 December 2010 at 8:41 pm

    Hi Marcus,
    After 10 years in the AEC SaaS space, my comments about similarity of message were a basic reflection that your marketing currently does little but repeat the ideas that AEC-oriented vendors have been projecting for a decade or more (saving paper, centralising the latest information, avoiding/reducing email, no software download, low/no training, simple to use, PAYG, understanding typical file structures, AEC-focused, etc).
    And, to be fair to them, few of the AEC-focused vendors I monitor are reliant on advertising.

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