Strategy Analytics paints a picture of dominance for Google’s mobile OS. Derek Walter reports

Android just reached a new milestone in its worldwide dominance over iOS. According to new research from Strategy Analytics, 87.5 percent of smartphones around the globe are now running Android. Shipments hit a total of 328.6 million for third quarter of 2016, which is up 10.3 percent up year-on-year. While Android had always been hanging around the 80 percent mark, this latest number is a new high. Comparatively, Apple shipped 45.5 million iPhones, which is down 5.2 percent from the 48 million from 2015. The real drop is in ‘others’ such as Blackberry and Windows phone. In 2015, 8.2 million units of ‘other’ smartphones were sold in the third quarter. This year, the number is just 1.3 million.

The growth worldwide is generally driven by low-cost devices, particularly in developing markets. But that may lead to a difficult field for the companies that are competing in this space, according to Woody Oh, director of Strategy Analytics: “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.”

Android’s dominance may not slow, but competing in the league may still be a challenge for hardware makers who have to fight for profits at such thin margins.Android is big, which has both been a boon for Google services and a challenge for how to manage fragmentation. The Pixel line frees Google to focus on building the optimal mobile OS experience with its own devices at the high end, while still serving up the Android Open Source Project to hardware partners.