Get them while you can. Hewlett-Packard's attempt to create a tablet in competition with Apple's iPad has failed, with HP now selling the TouchPad for just $99. Retailers like Best Buy and others slashed the $500 price tag and most stores have sold out already.

With such a big player in the computer hardware market dropping this bomb, it signals that the non-iPad tablets are doomed. HP also said it was getting out of the smartphone business.

Reportedly, Cupertino-based Apple has ordered parts for some 1.5 million next-gen iPads, alleged to come in 1Q 2012. The iPad 3 is rumored to feature the new "Retina" display, with a resolution of 2048x1536 in the same 9.7 inch screen space.

Apple has sold over 9 billion iPads just in 2Q 2011, the company's third fiscal quarter, nearly three times what it sold a year before.

It is statistics like these that set the tone for the future of tablet computing. It is going to take a serious effort to compete with Apple on this front, and the invention of a product that is "killer". With Apple's "App Store", extensive battery life, and intuitive interface on iOS devices, they are likely to keep standing. The question is if a real competitor will emerge one day.

Wait! I hear you say, "But Apple won't display Flash content!"

This is true, and as long as Steve Jobs is calling the shots, iOS devices likely never will (natively) have Flash capability. This evidently has not been a deal-killer for iPad consumers, based on the sales figures noted above. More content developers are adding content with capabilities across platforms anyway, capturing more of the device market.

The iPad will likely continue to be a market leader for years to come, and I will guess that price points will even come down eventually. As long as they can keep making technology smaller, faster, and smarter, Apple will be able to keep their hold on the market.

Oh, and "one more thing." What will become of Apple when Steve Jobs departs?

It is bound to happen sooner or later. If the day should come (or should I say when), Apple without Jobs may not be the the market leader it is currently. But the buzz is that Apple folks have been trained to have a Steve-like attitude and vision. And Apple has said it is prepared to keep the momentum it currently has.

Matthew Hinman is the Southwest Region Online Coordinator with American Consolidated Media. He is involved with the development and implementation of ACM's websites in Texas and other areas.