Thanks in part to the massive popularity of Apple's iPhone, over 24 million cars featuring the company's CarPlay infotainment offering could be on the road just five years after the first vehicles sporting the new system roll off of automotive assembly lines.
Apple should be able to reach that milestone thanks to the number of automakers on board as partners — some 29 at last count — and the company's ability to drive interest in its products, according to a report from market research firm ABI Research. The fact that no one standard has taken the lead will also help, the firm believes, with marques following consumer desires rather than an industry leader.
"Many believe Apple is creating further fragmentations and a ripple effect in the industry by not being open," ABI analyst Filomena Berardi said. "However, love it or hate it, with Apple on the scene it certainly draws greater attention to in-car apps and now with the Android Auto standard on the scene both will certainly drive adoption of in-car apps."
Apple unveiled CarPlay, née iOS in the Car, during the 2013 edition of its annual developers conference in San Francisco and announced the first CarPlay-equipped models at this year's Geneva Motor Show. Drivers will be able to place phone calls, listen to voicemail messages, access contacts, and control apps like MLB at Bat and Pandora either using Siri or via their car's in-dash touchscreen after connecting a compatible iPhone.
Original CarPlay partners Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo have since been joined by the likes of Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Ford, General Motors, Jeep, Land Rover, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, PSA Peugeot CitroÃ«n, Ram, Subaru, Suzuki and Toyota. The system will also be available in the aftermarket with units from Alpine and Pioneer.
Not to be outdone, search giant Google subsequently unveiled an automotive initiative of its own, dubbed Android Auto. The overall functionality nearly mirrors that of CarPlay, but works only with Android devices.