With more competitors than ever, Apple's tablet supremacy has started slipping, making soon the perfect time to release a hyped-up new offering. To be exact, Apple will announce the iPad 3 the first week in March, sources told AllThingsD's John Paczkowski, and likely start selling the upgrade the following week. Last quarter alone Apple sold 15.4 million iPads. A lot. Enough to control 57.6 percent of the entire market. (And enough for Tim Cook to declare 2011 the year of the iPad.) But, not enough to maintain the 68.2 percent of the scene it had a year earlier. 

Since the iPad 2 came out last March -- Apple likes to keep things consistent -- not only have Android tablets gained in popularity, at least according to the chart below via Boy Genius Reporter, but Amazon has released its supposed (also Android-powered) iPad killer. The Fire hasn't exactly murdered the iPad, but Amazon claims it's popular. Without releasing exact sales figures, the company has boasted a vague "millions of Kindle" sales figure. Even with the apparent success of the Kindle Fire, Apple CEO Tim Cook doesn't see it as a huge threat. "I looked at [iPad] data in U.S. after Kindle Fire launch," he said during last quarter's earning call. Not an obvious affect plus or minus." But the Kindle's not the only competitor out there, as you can see below, and the little guys are starting to chip away at king tablet. 

The iPad 3, if it works out in any way like any of Apple's previous product launches, should help Apple get some of its groove back. The rumor mongers don't expect the tablet to look much different than the iPad 2. "Sources say it will be pretty much what we’ve been led to expect by the innumerable reports leading up to its release," writes Paczkowski. "A device similar in form factor to the iPad 2, but running a much faster chip, sporting an improved graphics processing unit, and featuring a 2048×1536 Retina Display — or something close to it." But that shouldn't matter. Remember the iPhone 4S launch? At first everyone grumbled about the too-similar-to-the-4 product. Then everyone bought it. We imagine the iPad will have the same effect.