Google is set to launch a new tablet to compete with Apple’s iPad next year, according to Google Chairman Eric Schmidt.

Schmidt told the Italian magazine Corriere della Sea that “In the next six months we plan to market a tablet of the highest quality.” He also referred to the competition between Google and Apple as “brutal” during the interview, while saying that Apple’s recently deceased cofounder was the “Michelangelo of our time.”

Schmidt did not disclose any details about the tablet that Google is working on. But he did perhaps drop a hint that the new tablet would include a feature that would compete with Apple’s Siri. “We have had the best voice translation software for a long time already, We can always use it to do things similar to Siri,” he said in the interview. “Of course, I am not speaking about future products not yet announced. However, we have the technology – we need not develop it.”

The actual manufacturer of the new tablet was not mentioned. However, Google is in the process of buying Motorola Mobility. Might Google and Motorola already be working on their first new combined product?

A new tablet from Google – one that has the capability to compete with the iPad – would easily be a major player in a tablet market that has been roiling with upsets. Some big names have have taken it on the chin over the last year, including HP and RIM. But Google is pretty smart about such things and has an incredible marketing reach. Others have tried to be the ‘iPad alternative’, but all have failed. If anyone can pull it off, it might very well be Google.