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Google's Android grabs 87.5% of market, but challenges ahead

04 November 2016

Google's Android mobile operating system (OS) grabbed a record market share in the third-quarter at the expense of Apple's iOS which posted a decline, according to new research.

Android captured 87.5 per cent of global smartphone market share in the three months to the end of September, Strategy Analytics said in a report. This means that nearly nine out of 10 smartphones in the world run Google's OS. Shipments of Android devices hit 328.6 million, up 10.3 per cent year-on-year.

Meanwhile, Apple shipped 45.5 million iPhones, down 5.2 per cent from the 48 million in the same period last year. This was confirmed in Apple's latest earnings results, which showed the third straight quarter of declines for iPhone sales. Apple iOS market share stood at 12.1 per cent in the third quarter, down from 13.6 per cent the year before.

Other mobile operating systems including those made by BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung's Tizen "have all but disappeared" and collectively make up just 0.3 per cent of the total smartphone market.

The growth of Android has been driven by the rise of low-cost vendors in countries such as China using the OS, but it could face challenges ahead.

"Android's leadership of the global smartphone market looks unassailable at the moment. Its low-cost services and user-friendly software remain attractive to hardware makers, operators and consumers worldwide," Woody Oh, director at Strategy Analytics, said in the report.

"However, several challenges remain for Google. The Android platform is getting overcrowded with hundreds of manufacturers; few Android device vendors make profits, and Google's new Pixel range is attacking its own hardware partners that made Android popular in the first place."

Google released two devices last month the Pixel and larger screen Pixel XL in one of its biggest hardware pushes to date. At the time, analysts said that the search giant could risk antagonizing manufacturers reliant on its mobile OS.

The fall in Apple's iOS shipments was expected but it's important to remember that the flagship iPhone 7 released in September was only on sale for a short time in this quarter and analysts are expecting an uptick in sales for the three months to December.

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