By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
September 6, 2008

This must drive the folks at Apple absolutely bananas.

They labor to create an elegant new device, designed to entice the masses and restore a sense of childlike wonder. They try to stage manage every aspect of its unveiling. They leak copies to selected reviewers. They rent a hall and schedule a special event. They invite the analysts and the mainstream media. They book interviews with the TV networks.

But before they can enjoy their day in the sun, the rumor sites have done their best to spoil the party by publishing practically everything there is to know about the new gadget — including fuzzy photos of dubious provenance — except its retail price.

The latest Apple (AAPL) product to be subjected to this process: the so-called fourth-generation iPod nano, expected to arrive Sept. 9 at Apple’s “Let’s Rock” event.

Below the fold: the new iPod nano’s unauthorized unveiling, as revealed layer by layer in the rumorsphere. (Click on the photos to view them in their original context.)

Images reposted by permission of iLounge, Kevin Rose, Engadget, Zollotech and Mac News Network.

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