Apple Inc is hosting a media event next week where it is expected to unveil the latest version of its popular iPad tablet as it looks to thwart increasing competition from deep-pocketed rivals such as Amazon Inc.

The invitation-only event will be held on March 7 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, the same venue

Apple used to unveil the last two iPads.

Apple, which sent the invitation to reporters by email on Tuesday, did not divulge details of the event, but just said that we have something you really have to see. And touch.

The invitation also featured a partial picture of a device resembling the iPad.

Apple launches are some of the hottest events on the tech calendar, scrutinized by fans, investors, the media and industry insiders alike.

The iPad has completely dominated the nascent tablet computer market, but Amazon's Kindle Fire, which sells at half the cost of an iPad, has chipped away at the lower end of the tablet market.

The third iteration of a device that has helped put pressure on demand for traditional laptops and computers is expected to boast a faster, quad-core processor and a higher-definition screen.

Some analysts and industry experts also expect 4G wireless capability, ensuring the iPad remains current as cutting edge broadband technology gains momentum.

Apple iPad tablet sales doubled in the December quarter to 15.43 million units from a year earlier. The company has sold about 55 million iPads since it introduced the device in 2010.

(Reporting By Poornima Gupta; editing by Maureen Bavdek and Andre Grenon)