Android dominates the world’s smartphone market. A new report from analyst firm Strategy Analytics pegs the Google-owned operating system’s global market share at 85 percent. That means that nearly nine in ten phones shipped are built on Android.

That domination is colossal. But while Google has ‘won’ the smartphone market share war — revenue is different, iOS is far ahead — the company faces a growing issue: the rise of non-Google Android.

Android is available in two different flavors. There’s the Google-endorsed Android, which is used by companies that agree to the terms and conditions of the Open Handset Alliance (OHA). Essentially, OHA members include the Google services that are baked into Android, and agree to limitations on how they can customize the software on their devices.

The other side is the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), a far-freer version that lets device makers tinker with all manner of elements of the software. Often that means ripping out Google services, and customizing the handset to run other software and services. Google apps are still accessible, but are not central to the experience as they are in OHA Android devices.

The concern for Google centers around the fact that AOSP handsets don’t emphasize Google services. Since Google is not a primary hardware company — though it has its Nexus range and used to own Motorola — having its services as a central of Android is an important way to get engagement (and revenue) from mobile phone owners.

‘Forked’ Android isn’t something new. Amazon has been modifying AOSP for its Kindle tablets (and now phone) for some time — swapping out standard Google Android services and features for its own app store, design and other features. Likewise, it has been common in China, predominantly for cheap devices, for some time. Notably, Alibaba sparred with Google two years ago over its use and modifications of Android — but now the rate of AOSP phones is growing.
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