By now Apple is ready to announce the iPad Mini, a 7.9 inch tablet for under $300. Something Steve Jobs once said Apple would never do. But the saintly Steve Jobs has passed on. Tim Cook is running Apple now. Many ask, why do this.
Well Google and Amazon had 7 inch tablets for under $300 for a while now, the Android based tablets. Apple saw it was a threat and since lawsuits didn't turn out as well as they wanted, they have to copy Android and make a 7 inch tablet. But of course Apple will be considered to be first with the 7 inch tablet. 7 Inch Android Tablets at Amazon for example you can pick from a lot of them.
Meanwhile Microsoft is ready to roll out Windows 8 on October 26, 2012. Why is that relevant? Well Microsoft has their surface tablets based on Windows 8 that compete with the Android and iOS devices. The kicker is that Windows 8 uses Intel/AMD chips that can run legacy Windows applications (well to be honest not 100% of them but enough) and have a docking feature to turn them into laptops with a detachable keyboard.
Microsoft also has Windows RT (RISC Technology) that looks like Windows 8, but uses the same ARM chip many Android and all iOS devices use. The Windows RT tablet should compete with the Android and iPad in price. The difference is the Windows RT tablet won't run legacy Windows apps, as it is not Intel/AMD X86/X64 compatible.
There is the 7 inch Android 4.1 tablet from China that costs $45 that hasn't even entered the US market yet. The so called A-Pad that All Winners and other Chinese companies are making. If the FCC approves it, and the federal government allows it, you will see cheap 7 inch tablets in discount stores that outsell the iPad, Windows 8, and Google and Amazon and Samsung etc Android tablets. Apple had to make something to compete with it before it hits US shores.
There will be a tablet war in 2013, make no doubt about that.