The iPad 3 has a target on its back now that competing manufacturers know its strengths and weaknesses.

Just because the new iPad has a super-high resolution display and a few HD apps some people will want, doesn't mean people will pay $500 for it. That's where companies like Amazon, Google and Nokia come in because they have the best chance to put out a far cheaper tablet that takes dead aim at the iPad.

Despite the iPad's amazing run as by far the most popular tablet computer, Android-powered tablets have been finding their way into buyers' hands more and more over the past year. That trend will continue, and since everyone is trained on taking down the iPad, someone will eventually be able to do it.

Our money is on Microsoft, but Google has more experience in the consumer tablet world. Additionally, Google is rumored to be readying a so-called Nexus tablet for a late summer or early autumn launch. A Microsoft-powered tablet, possibly designed by Nokia, may not arrive in 2012 at all, but that's not a sure thing either.

The iPad may not lose its dominance in 2012. But it's been on top for a long time now, and so far, only the Amazon Kindle Fire has been able to generate any significant following. That means the time is approaching when some company will perfect the formula it takes to convince buyers to look beyond Apple when considering a new tablet.

One reason Amazon has been successful with the Kindle Fire in the first place is that it makes it easy to buy other products with the device. On the Kindle Fire, it's only one tap to buy things in the Amazon store, including movies, books, television shows and music.

For that exact reason, Google changed the name of Android Market to Google Play. Google knows it has to tie in its app and entertainment offerings directly to the devices people buy. Furthermore, this is also why Apple made so much of the HD apps on the  new iPad. Apple knows the success of iPad is due in part to the apps it runs.

This is not a secret, and Microsoft and Google are in the best position to do something about it. Microsoft should be able to convince developers to make apps for the Windows 8/Windows Phone 8 system that will make people think twice about buying an iPad. There's too much at stake for Microsoft not to know that, and by the end of the year, we should know whether it will be they or Google who can take down the iPad.