For many big tech companies, the fourth quarter is their make-or-break quarter. And investors involved with key consumer tech players like Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), (NASDAQ:AMZN), and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) have plenty riding on their execution during this all-important time of the year.

However, tech and telecom analyst Andrew Tonner has always disagreed with this idea, at least to an extent. To him, the third quarter should matter most to the investors and analysts who own and watch these firms. Why? Because that's when the products that will make or break the fourth quarter are often launched. It's when investors get their first real glimpse into how the competitive landscape will look during the critical fourth quarter. It sets the stage for all the action in the following quarter.

With that in mind, Andrew looks at what's likely to hit the stage in the tablet market as we enter this critical time.

Fool contributor Andrew Tonner owns shares of Apple. Follow Andrew and all his writing on Twitter at @AndrewTonnerThe Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of and Apple. It also owns shares of Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.