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Google Android hits market share record with nearly 9 in every 10 smartphones using it

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 percent 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 percent year-on-year.

Meanwhile, Apple's shipped 45.5 million iPhones, down 5.2 percent 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 percent in the third quarter, down from 13.6 percent the year before.

Attendees visit the Android booth during a Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco.
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Attendees visit the Android booth during a Google I/O developers conference in San Francisco.

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 percent 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.