Apple's arrival likely won't affect plans by GM, Ford Motor Co. and their dealers to make money on new apps that use the center stack.
Before the Consumer Electronics Show in January, GM sponsored a Connected Car Challenge during AT&T's Developer Summit Hacka-thon, a gathering of nearly 500 software developers to explore app ideas.
GM is counting on developers to create apps for tasks such as guiding motorists to parking spots, finding the cheapest fuel or recording routes and miles driven to qualify for cheaper car insurance.
Automakers hope motorists might pay to use some of these apps. "GM, Ford and others understand the value of this data," Schreiner says. A deal with Apple "won't affect their data strategy."
Sure enough, GM spokesman Scott Fosgard confirmed on Friday that the automaker won't outsource control of that data to Apple or anyone else.
"We have access to the data," Fosgard said, "and we are going full steam ahead with our apps framework."
Although Apple's chief goal is to sell more smartphones, not reinvent the auto, that doesn't necessarily consign Apple to a minor automotive role.
Apple built itself a $400 billion market capitalization by reinventing the user experience for computers and music. So is the center stack next?
The company was built on a keen instinct for the human-machine interface, said Thilo Koslowski, a vehicle communications technology analyst for the research firm Gartner Inc.
"Given Apple's expertise, they can figure out a way to apply this to the auto," Koslowski said.
If Apple can shake up the industry, as Koslowski believes, then keep your eye on Cue, the executive who runs Apple's Siri and map software. Last year Cue officially became a car guy when he joined Ferrari's board of directors.
In a November article, The Wall Street Journal dubbed Cue a "Mr. Fix-It" known for his patience and deal making. And Cue, a confidant of the late Steve Jobs, has established his credentials as a product guy at Apple.
In 2009, Cue finally convinced skeptical Jobs that the iPad -- which was about to debut -- would make a great e-book reader, according to an account posted on the Web site of The Unofficial Apple Web log, or TUAW. Jobs went along, and Apple's e-reader and online bookstore were big hits.
Cue also was the chief advocate for a smaller 7-inch iPad Mini, a product that debuted in 2012.
So the auto industry's infotainment sector is looking like a barroom brawl, and Apple's Cue is the big bruiser who just burst through the door.
He's going to knock some people down -- but the fight has just begun.