What's more, if Google makes the Android operating system available in more vehicles sooner, consumers could go in the opposite direction—to Android from Apple, Pachal said.
(Read more: A new way to use an iPhone in the car)
Google, which has partnered with a number of automakers to develop Android-based car infotainment systems, announced a deal with Audi earlier this year.
This week, Apple's CarPlay will be available in select Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari and Volvo vehicles; it will work only with iPhone 5, 5s and 5c models. That focus on luxury names and newer phones, at least at first, is a deliberate move by Apple to present itself as an aspirational brand, according to Pachal.
(Read more: Car tech: Not just a Google vs. Apple story)
"Apple wants to win over some high-profile influencers with its in-car toys," he said. "I expect to see a few celebrity types promoting CarPlay—both in commercials and on the road—when it finally arrives."
Eventually, Apple said, more affordable brands such as Ford, General Motors, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai and Kia will roll out CarPlay-compatible models.
—By CNBC's Althea Chang