In just five years, Apple's CarPlay API for iPhone integration will dominate the auto industry and will be installed in more than 24 million vehicles, according to ABI Research.
In a report, ABI points to announcements from more than half a dozen manufacturers that plan to install CarPlay in new vehicles. Those car makers include Ford, BMW, Audi, Mercedes, Jaguar/Land Rover, Toyota, Nissan, and Volvo.
The CarPlay specification allows an iPhone to be mirrored to a vehicle's infotainment system while the smartphone is recharging.
What Apple's CarPlay would look like on a car's infotainment system (Image: Apple).
Once connected to the infotainment system, the iPhone can be controlled by voice, through a car's built-in touchscreen or by steering wheel-mounted controls.
Through CarPlay, drivers will be able to use the voice-recognition service Siri to have text messages read aloud, reply via voice and get contact information from an iOS device to make phone calls.
CarPlay also enables the use of the Apple Maps navigation service.
CarPlay is competing with proprietary interfaces, such as Ford's Sync system, as well as industry open-source specifications such as MirrorLink and GENIVI, which are championed by industry groups.
Earlier this year, Google announced it would start an Open Automotive Alliance (OAA) and its standard will be known as "Android Auto."
Unlike CarPlay, which is positioned to integrate only with iOS devices, open-source standards such as MirrorLink can also handle Android, Windows and Blackberry phones.
Even if 24 million cars are using CarPlay, that doesn't mean they won't also be able to use competing standards. For example, Mercedes Benz became the first car company to demonstrate Apple's new CarPlay interface for the iPhone 5 and later models at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year. It also reemphasized its support for MirrorLink's OS-agnostic standard for the same purpose.
Mercedes is a founding member of the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC), a group of automobile and mobile phones makers developing MirrorLink.
ABI Research also believes the uptake of MirrorLink will be significant, but predicts that more cars will be fitted with CarPlay.
Without an open ecosystem, however, carmakers could be forced to collaborate with more than one partner, according to ABI.
MirrorLink, OAA and GENIVI have all positioned themselves as "open sourced" and they could be considered competitors, which goes against being open, ABI's report said.
"This trend is concerning as car manufacturers will worry about incompatibility and whether supporting the wrong platform will lead to lost sales," the report noted. "For consumers, potentially it could mean asking the dealer, 'Will my smartphone be compatible with my car?'"
Volvo's demonstration of CarPlay on its infotainment system.
Although Android Auto has just been launched, it claims to already have the backing of 40 car makers with more announcements slated for 2015. As a result, uptake of the Android Auto standard could be more aggressive than CarPlay by 2019.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.