Gphone

Nine ways of looking at a Google phone

December 13, 2009: 7:55 AM ET

The long-rumored gPhone has surfaced, but no one can agree on what it means

The purported Google phone. Photo: Cory O'Brien

Google (GOOG) announced on its mobile blog Saturday what dozens of staffers had already leaked: the company has given employees around the world free handsets running its Android mobile operating system. The idea, according to the official report, is to have Google's own people test various advanced features and offer feedback to the company's designers -- a process known in the business as "dogfooding" (as in "eating your own dogfood").

Not surprisingly, given Google's financial clout and the power it wields over the Internet, the experiment has launched a storm of speculation about what it means. As we sort through the theories, we count at least nine ways of looking at the Google phone:

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