The Samsung Galaxy Tab is by far the biggest competitor to the Apple iPad 2. Apple’s recent announcement that Steve Jobs is stepping down as CEO might just create some opportunities for competitors to steal marketshare from the No.1 tablet leader. While there are many tablets on the market today, who are we kidding, along with the Galaxy Tab, the Motorola Xoom, soon to be owned by Google when the acquisition is finalized, are the only tablets that have the technology wherewithal and overall graphics to actually do any damage to iPad’s market dominance. There are tablets in play for sure, and even rumors that a few others will pop up soon like Amazon, which all may have an impact, but right now, I think the Xoom and the Tab appear to be the two tablets that can leverage the transition period that Apple might just experience with a new captain in the cockpit.

It’s no secret that when a top corporate visionary retires or vacates a position, upheaval is sure to follow. It’s a rare exception that a company has smooth sailing when it puts a new captain in charge of the bridge. In many cases it takes years and the transition is not without some rough seas. But when the new exec is settled some good things do follow and in other cases the top honcho gets ousted. Now, I am not saying Tim Cook is going to fail; to the contrary, he is an Apple veteran who previously served as the company’s chief operating officer. Prior to being officially handed the reins this past week, Cook had been at the helm directing the Apple troops since January while Jobs had been on medical leave.

Now, Cook and company need to keep their eyes on the likes of Samsung and Google, which have the greatest opportunity to take advantage of market uncertainty. While the announcement last week received mixed reaction on Wall Street, everyone will be watching to see if the leadership change will distract the U.S.-based company, so the pressure is on.

But as everyone knows, Samsung is facing some legal issues with Apple globally that is causing it some hiccups. Apple claims Samsung blatantly copied the design, look, and even feel of Apple devices like the iPhone and iPad, thereby infringing upon Apple’s intellectual property. As a result of these claims the Apple injunction has literally stopped the sale of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in almost all of Europe and Australia. Prior to this ongoing legal dispute, the Galaxy Tab Android 3.1 OS from Samsung started to give the Apple iPad a pretty nice run, putting a crimp in some global sales with its higher resolution screen and thinner design proving to be a very attractive tablet to consumers. Now with the pending Google acquisition of Motorola, only time will tell how it can impact the Xoom, and making it even more appealing to customers in the months ahead.

Only time will tell if Apple will continue to partner with the right companies to keep it smelling sweet with shareholders, consumers, and OEMs in the months and years ahead. And it will be even more interesting to see if Samsung and Google/Motorola can take advantage of this management change to step up their efforts and take a bite out of Apple.

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