Luxury cars and watches among sectors facing a collision of new technology and establish firms.

Electric cars? Who wants those? Well, in the United States at least, lots of people. That is, wealthy car buyers who would normally splash out on an Audi, Porsche, BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz or Lexus.

Tesla is bragging about its hi-tech Model S outselling luxo barges from the European and Japanese car marques, with numbers last year up by over a half compared to 2014 (tinyurl.com/nzh-modelstesla) whereas the traditional car makers' sales numbers drop like rocks.

Clearly there was something incredibly attractive about electric cars that drew people away from fossil fuel powered vehicles.

Now the likes of Audi and Porsche are scrambling to come out with viable electric cars of their own, but the horse might just have bolted on that one, with Tesla's mainstream offering Model 3 having received 400,000-plus pre-orders already.

Advertisement

Then there's the watch that whipped the lederhosen of the Swiss timekeeping industry. The Verband der Schweizerischen Uhrenindustrie umbrella organisation's latest report points to an annus horribilis for the alpine horologists, with the sales decline that started last year gathering pace.

"The scale of the downturn is also unusual, since we must go back to the crisis of 2009 to find rates of variation of this order," the Swiss watch industry federation said.

(tinyurl.com/nzh-swisswatch)

Apple Watch was launched last year, and it's no coincidence that Swiss timepiece sales have dropped since then. Analysts now expect Apple will have sold 10 to 12 million of its watches, and Swiss watchmakers are left by the wayside as they have nothing with which to compete.

Apple Watch was launched last year, and it's no coincidence that Swiss timepiece sales have dropped since then.
Apple Watch was launched last year, and it's no coincidence that Swiss timepiece sales have dropped since then.

This change of fortunes is what disruption is about, and over the last few years information technology has accelerated the pace with which it happens, with an increasing number of industries being affected.

Nobody's immune to technology-borne disruption, not even tech companies themselves. Last week, Intel, the granddaddy of miniaturisation and extreme technology integration, announced it would shed 12,000 jobs worldwide. That's not because its products are rubbish - quite the contrary - but because they're not what people want, a similar situation to the luxury cars brands versus Tesla collision.

Intel probably has the collective intelligence and vision to dig themselves out of their current hole and make the necessary albeit painful changes to survive.

It should be a wake-up call for every director out there though that even Intel is feeling the squeeze, because once the decline sets in, it'll be fast and it'll be hard to reverse direction.

IT Heavy Hitters slugging it out

Next month, it's time again to watch sundry geeks and techies bash each other to bits in the boxing ring, all for a good cause and for the fun of it too.

The IT Heavy Hitters big night out is on May 7 in Wellington, and the charity boxing event is organised for the Key to Life Charitable Trust, which works with suicide prevention and awareness and mental health in New Zealand. (itheavyhitters.co.nz)

Pre-sale tickets are $35 each, going up to $40 on the night at the door. It's for a good cause, so please check it out.

Mike Dawes, who organises the event, tells me he's working on debugging a major flaw with the event - namely that it's held in some place called Wellington, which I think is near Stewart Island somewhere.

Dawes said he and others are working on bringing IT Heavy Hitters to Auckland as well, which is a fantastic idea. Gloves crossed it'll happen.