A Key Industry under Pressure

Looking down the Barrel of Loaded Disruption

Apple_car_key_lApple’s CEO, Tim Cook, talked up the potential of the Apple Watch in an interview with The Telegraph. The sensor-filled wearable can measure pulses and make payments — certainly an unsettling development for manufacturers of dedicated heart-rate monitors and leather wallets. There are few safety zones when a smart device is coming your way.

Mr Cook casually commented that the Apple Watch will also become the remote car key of the future, replacing the now-ubiquitous bulky fob. It’s a second front into the auto for the company: Apple CarPlay enables iOS devices to become the content of the car, and perhaps eventually the brains.

The statement about another potential smartwatch function wasn’t a warning to vehicle parts suppliers, but it’s a signal that should be taken seriously by any company in its path. A smartwatch or a smartphone can replace expensive smart keys with low-cost or no-cost apps. It’s not unprecedented — existing Android Wear programs allow Tesla owners to perform many functions from a watch from afar, and smartphone apps provide even greater control and monitoring. Handsets can become diagnostics tools.

The smartwatch’s competitive threat to makers of remote entry systems is reminiscent of the scorched-earth destruction that smartphones caused in markets for PDAs and personal navigation devices. Smart connected products with solid software development kits grow across industries. If there’s something that authenticates, measures or calculates, it’s possible that an app is standing by as a replacement. This is a key example of disruption in the making.

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