How Mobile Apps Are Disrupting the Car-Rental Business:
“Since Zipcar has shown that a mobile app and special software can help tackle the logistical challenges of car sharing, rivals have been following suit. Six months ago, Hertz launched an iPhone app that functions in much the same way for Connect, its own Zipcar-like program. Whereas Zipcar has 6,500 vehicles, Hertz has nearly half a million, although only about 1,000 of those are available through Connect. “As we began to look at [Zipcar] and to see that model grow, it was a natural evolution for Hertz,” says Joseph Eckroth, Hertz’s chief information officer.“
(Via Technology Review: The Authority on the Future of Technology.)
I have personal experience with this. It is indeed a niche that’s growing. I don’t see ZipCar being able to fend off serious forays from the established rental companies if they get serious however. Disruption? Maybe. Right now it looks more like evolution. What would be disruptive is an acquisition forcing the remaining competitors to get into the game. We’ll see.