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Google chairman Eric Schmidt announced in an interview today that the company was looking to launch its own tablet within the next six months.

In a conversation with Italian publication Carriere Della Sera, Schmidt spoke briefly about the iPad and revealed, “In the next six months, we plan to market a tablet of the highest quality.”

While Apple has vigorously prosecuted manufacturers such as Samsung for its allegedy copycat tablet design — and while Steve Jobs spoke strongly before his death about how he considered Android a work of theft — Schmidt chalked it all up to business and competition.

“In mobile communications, the smartphone market, you will see brutal competition between Apple and Google Android. It is capitalism,” he said.

We’re waiting for official confirmation from Google about the meaning of Schmidt’s words. Google might be rolling out a new type of tablet with a manufacturer partner as part of its familiar lead-device strategy for new Android operating systems. Or, the company might actually be bringing a Nexus-like tablet to market itself under the Google brand name.

One thing is certain, however: Whatever product Schmidt is talking about will be running Android 4.0, a.k.a. Ice Cream Sandwich and will likely show off the most impressive features of that operating system. Currently, few Ice Cream Sandwich tablets are available, even for pre-order.

For now, Android tablets in general make up an exciting but still small portion of the tablet market, where they face stiff competition from the likes of Apple’s iPad. As of August 2011, Android tablets had wrested 20 percent of the tablet market share away from Apple.

However, all that was before the onslaught of color touchscreen tablet/ereader hybrids such as the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet. These slightly downmarket competitors might not pack the graphics processing power of the iPad and Android tablets, but they weigh in at a slender $200 to $250, which means in this economy, they’re priced to sell like hotcakes. In fact, Amazon said it’s selling more than a million Kindles each week.

Image courtesy of Jolie O’Dell.

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