Update: Playing the Apple rumor game

Wired.com ran this Photoshopped vision of an Apple dream machine.

Apple has scheduled its next secret announcement for September 9. The blogs are already buzzing. Our only clues as to what dream machine Steve Jobs has up his sleeve are the cryptic taglines "Let’s Rock" and "Playing Soon."

This was enough to spark speculation that Apple will unveil a new iPod.

"It's got to be new iPods. That's 100 percent certain," Needham & Company analyst Charles Wolf told Reuters. "The only question I cannot answer is whether they will also do new MacBooks."

Wired’s Gadget Lab guesses it could be anything from a "sideways-widescreen iPod nano" to "revisions to the iPod touch."

Somehow, Mr. Jobs has a day planner that can launch a thousand headlines. Even Obama and McCain have trouble getting a news cycle out of an announcement to make an announcement.

The most entertaining example of Apple's bizarre ability to inspire the blogging masses: Photoshopped fan art.

For years, Apple fan boys have mocked up imaginary iProducts.

In February 2006, more than half a year before Apple unveiled the iPhone, pictures of some surprisingly professional fakes surfaced on the Internet. The sleek, smooth-cornered music player had a touch screen that covered the whole front side of the device. In hindsight, these Photoshop forgeries/prophesies were surprising accurate – although the terms "phone" or "iPod Touch" rarely came up on the message boards because everyone was anticipating the next Video iPod.

More recently, fans have had fun imaging the iPhone’s big brother. Several sites posted pictures of the “MacBook Touch,” a gorgeous, if fictional, tablet PC. (See above.) We can only hope that it won't take six months for Jobs to announce a similar device.

Update: iLounge just posted what could be another sham design. The site is spinning these new blueprints as legitimate. Only time will tell.

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