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The sudden appearance, in millions of browsers, of a new icon for Google was jarring to many users, though the change was slight — a capital "G" replaced by a lowercase "g". An E.E. Cummings-esque affectation? Perhaps, since the change was driven by overworked, underoccupied Google VP Marissa Mayer. She says she made her designers go through more 300 variations before settling on a lowercase blue "g". After putting her employees through the wringer, she's now outsourcing the mess to Google users But if you read Mayer's rules for an icon, though, you'll see she's set to reject anything but the one she chose.

It can be any primary color except red or yellow. It must use a letter from the Google logo, but one that's closely associated with Google's services, which rules out "o," "l," and "e." Anything you want, as long as it's a blue "g"! Mayer's tyrannical design process aside, her business justifications for settling on "g" are intriguing.<./p>

The design constraints were all set around cell phones, not Web browsers. Mayer wants Google's new mini-logo to be distinctive on a wide range of cell-phone screens; blue will always show up reasonably well. The lowercase "g" has relatively thick features, which means it will hold up in low resolution. Google wants to be small — so it can have a big future in wireless.