Dissecting The Sony Nexus X, The Fake That Launched A Thousand Stories

So hey, remember that Sony Nexus X image that made the rounds earlier this week? The one that more than a few commentors called a hoax after I ran a story about it? Well, the skeptics among you were right — creator of the faux-Nexus came forward not long ago with a tell-all Tumblr spelling out what he did and (more importantly) how he did it.

In short, the so-called Nexus X was actually a smartly-crafted render created by Vermont-based video/graphic artist (and music startup buff) Ti Kawamoto, who cobbled it together and threw it online in seven and a half hours. This was no rushed Photoshop job — the faux-Nexus render was peppered with components and design flourishes from plenty of existing hardware (the pogo pins came from early Nexus phones, the speaker design was lifted from the Xperia ion, the list goes on).

And Kawamoto’s motives for the whole thing?

I cooked this scheme up on Saturday, October 13th without a whole lot of initial thought behind it. As a fun exercise in 3D device modeling, I was already halfway finished with my vision of an ideal-yet-not-too-pie-in-the-sky rendering of a Sony designed Nexus device. Nothing nefarious here, folks; just a guy sharpening his skills.

Of course, that’s not the whole story. Kawamoto also wanted to perform a little stress testing on how people decide to run the stories they do, as well as spark some discussion about the possibility of a Sony/Google Nexus hookup in the hopes that the companies would take notice.

Now comes the part where I eat a bit of crow. For what it’s worth, I wasn’t sold on the veracity of the images (something that I pointed out in the post itself), but I ultimately ran the post anyway. Maybe you agree with that decision, maybe you don’t, but given the quality of the image and earlier reports that Google was working with multiple hardware partners, it seemed way too interesting to not weigh in on.

As it turns out, even more interesting than the purported device itself was the sheer speed at which enthusiastic blogs and big tech sites picked up the story. The real kicker here is that after the images in question were uploaded to Picasa, Kawamoto literally didn’t have to do a damn thing (though he also whipped up a handsome fake promo video in case people “didn’t stumble across the Tumblr blog organically.)” It wasn’t long before sites like XperiaBlog stumbled across them and helped set off a chain reaction. The full timeline of events from the his perspective can be found here, but in the end over 100 posts and news items devoted to the Nexus X (some more skeptical than others, natch) went live before the day was over. That number has grown considerably since then — Kawamoto notes there “around 1,000 news articles on the ‘Sony Nexus X'” as of a few days ago, which equates to a hell of a lot of work and discussion sparked by a seven hour experiment:

Let’s say it takes an extremely unscientific average of 15 minutes to research, write, edit, and publish this kind of article; that’s 15,000 minutes or 250 hours of human capital that I mobilized by sitting here and moving my hands a bit on a Sunday evening. This doesn’t even take into account the number of non-journalists who devoted time to reading about, discussing, or debunking this story (most likely during work hours). Let me reiterate: I, an individual with no previous worldwide recognition save for a frontpage Reddit post, managed to alter the behavior of people in Russia, Japan, Uzbekistan, and Italy within the course of 24 hours, all from the comfort of my home while exerting next to no effort. If you are nothing short of absolutely blown the fuck away by this, then the music died for you a long time ago.

It’s interesting to consider how one person’s Sunday afternoon project spurred me and plenty of my mobile compatriots to dive into the fray and ponder not only the veracity of the images, but what they could mean for Sony, Google, and the future of the search giant’s Nexus brand. If nothing else, it’s a testament to just how small the world has gotten, and just how passionate some of our online enclaves can be. Kudos to the Kawamoto for crafting some impressive looking hardware (I can already hear some fervent netizens calling on Sony to extend a job offer), and for providing us all with a neat if ultimately baseless (for now) thought experiment.