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NEW YORK (MainStreet) — It’s finally happening.

Apple (Stock Quote: AAPL) sent out invitations Tuesday for a press event on March 7 to unveil the newest iPad. While the invitation doesn’t specifically mention the iPad 3 (Apple always likes to play coy until the last minute), it does show a close-up picture of an iPad along with the words, “We have something you really have to see. And touch.”

The date of the event matches previous rumors about when Apple would announce the new tablet. However, the actual release date for the product is still unknown. If Apple follows tradition, consumers in the U.S. should be able to buy the iPad 3 by mid-March.

Last year, Apple unveiled the iPad 2 on March 2 and it was available for purchase in stores nine days later on March 11. There were no pre-orders for the device. Instead, customers had to wait to order online until March 11 and the first deliveries began to show up on people’s doorsteps as soon as March 14.

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Just based on that timetable, if Apple unveils the iPad 3 on March 7, customers can expect it to hit store shelves and be available online for delivery as soon as March 16. Mark it down on your iCalendar.

Seth Fiegerman is a staff reporter for MainStreet. You can reach him by e-mail at, or follow him on Twitter @sfiegerman.