Smartphones running iOS (Apple), Android (Google) and BlackBerry (RIM) are helping to jumpstart the relatively nascent automotive infotaintment industry.
According to iSuppli principal analyst Egil Juliussen, Apple's iPhone - in particular - is responsible for evolving the smartphone into an application-centric, multi-purpose mobile platform capable of spanning multiple industries.
"As a result, other smartphone platforms are rapidly following the iPhone's lead by adding a multi-touch user interface, application development tools and App Stores in order to sell and distribute third-party applications," Juliussen told TG Daily in an e-mailed statement.
"Together, these trends are enabling the smart phone to exert an increasing impact on multiple industries, including automotive infotainment."
Nevertheless, Juliussen emphasized that smartphones have already had a positive effect on the industry.
"[For example], the first mobile phone and smartphone impact [was the] hands-free telephone systems interfaced to car headunits and connected via Bluetooth.
"[Of course], the smartphone has also become a leading source of digital music that is played [using] headunit audio components - [with] connections primarily implemented via USB interfaces, Bluetooth (A2DP) and iPod/auxiliary interfaces.
"[Finally], the smartphone is having a major impact on Portable Navigation Devices (PNDs) and on in-vehicle navigation systems. Today, nearly all smartphones feature some navigation functionality at very competitive prices."
He added that next-gen automotive infotainment platforms are likely to be based primarily on Google's mobile Android OS, which will be supplemented by the Genivi consortium's MeeGo platform for Nokia devices.
"Terminal Mode is a [perfect] example of a headunit-to-smart phone interface that will render [next-gen] smartphones on the headunit display... This also relates to the future use of smart-phone-based platforms as the basis for the hardware/software architecture of headunits.
"[And] Android-based platforms with additional auto-specific Applications Programming Interfaces (APIs) are [already] moving in this direction."