The competition may be stiffening beyond the new Kindle Fire tablet for Apple's industry-leading iPad tablet. Google chairman Eric Schmidt has revealed that the company will launch its own flagship tablet within six months, in a direct attempt to take on Apple's iPad.

In the next six months we plan to market a tablet of the highest quality, Schmidt told an Italian newspaper this week.

Google's Android operating system is the world's most popular, but it's Apple's devices like the iPad tablet and iPhone smartphone that are the world's most popular. After launching the iPad in 2010, Apple has controlled the vast majority of global tablet market share. Amazon's new lower-priced Kindle Fire tablet is taking a bite from that market share, since a mid-November release.

Now, Google appears poised to go after the Apple iPad. Schmidt described the iPad as amazing, according to The Telegraph, and said the late Steve Jobs should be credited with creating the tablet craze. Many tablets already use Google's Android operating system, but Google doesn't sell its own hardware as a signature product.

Steve Jobs was the Michelangelo of our time. A friend of mine and a unique character, able to combine creativity and visionary genius with an extraordinary engineering ability, Schdmit said. Steve realised the revolutionary potential of the tablet and created an amazing product like the iPad, he added.

Apple is widely expected to release a new iPad 3 tablet in the first quarter of 2012. Production is reported to be underway already in China. The iPad 3 is expected to be thinner, have a new quad-core A6 processor, a longer lasting battery pack, and a Retina Display that will doubled the iPad's screen resolution.