Google's Android remains dominant in Q3, but challenges emerge

Google faces a fight to maintain the dominance of its Android smartphone operating system (OS) even though the platform increased its grip on the global market during the third quarter.

Analysts at Strategy Analytics noted that Android's share of global smartphone shipments in the third quarter increased at the expense of rival platforms from Apple, Microsoft and BlackBerry. However, Neil Mawston, executive director at the research company, said the headline figures mask emerging challenges for the Google OS.

"The Android platform is getting overcrowded with hundreds of hardware brands, Android smartphone prices are falling worldwide, and few Android device vendors make profits," Mawston said.

On the flip side, device vendors are attracted to Android by its "low-cost services and user-friendly software," Mawston noted.

Strategy Analytics estimates that Android was the only platform to show year-on-year increases in its market share during the third quarter. While Android's share of all smartphone shipments increased from 81.4 per cent to 83.6 per cent in the recent quarter, Apple's iOS fell from 13.4 per cent to 12.3 per cent, Microsoft's Windows Mobile from 4.1 per cent to 3.3 per cent, and BlackBerry from 1 per cent to 0.7 per cent.

Woody Oh, director at Strategy Analytics, said BlackBerry lost share "due to a lackluster range of BB10 devices," while Apple lost out "because of its limited presence at the lower end of the smartphone market."

Another potential explanation for Apple's loss is that consumers held off buying an iPhone during the quarter, ahead of the launch of the latest versions of the smartphone in September.

According to Oh, Microsoft's third-quarter market share loss was due to limited traction in China and Japan.

The research company noted that emerging markets including Africa, the Middle East, and Asia are driving global smartphone shipments growth. 

Strategy Analytics last week revealed that strong domestic sales of Android smartphones in the third quarter drove Chinese device maker Xiaomi to third place in the list of global shipments by vendor for the first time in its history. The company shipped an estimated 18 million units during the quarter, for a 5.6 per cent share of total shipments.

For more:
- see Strategy Analytics smartphone OS release

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