Why the "Beta" fad? - YugaTech | Philippines Tech News & Reviews

Why the “Beta” fad?

Google has not only managed to be a market leader in almost anything it puts its eyes into but it has unwittingly created a whole lot of “coolness” and raves for the viral marketing strategy of beta releases.

Gmail went on beta. Google Desktop came out on beta. GTalk came out as a beta. And a whole slew of other Google services as well. The “on invite only” strategy made things more creative and got some buzz (imagine seeing Gmail invites for sale on eBay when it first came out).


The rest came in and followed suit with their beta (Measuremap was in Alpha) services and products. Despite the trend, people label them that way just to cover up for obvious inadequacies:

Now beta means:

  • It’s not really working.
  • We can’t afford to get a QA team so we’ll let the users look for bugs instead. It’s free/cheaper.
  • Half a dozen other companies are doing almost the same thing so we want to release it to the public before it’s even finished. We want to be first to market you know.
  • We haven’t really tested the system for scalability so we can only allow a maximum of 50 people at a time to use it.
  • We’re running on a single dedicated server so we can’t really provide the “unlimited” resources we promised.
  • We’re not sure what people really want so we thought we’d ask them first before completing the development.
  • We’re hoping Google or Yahoo might take notice and buy us before we use up all our savings.

Some are good at it, others just fail miserably.

Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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3 Responses

  1. vern says:

    Google isn’t really trying to use “Beta” as a viral marketing tool. People have used public betas since forever. It simply means they are not satisfied with it and need help ironing out bugs before they can put their seal of approval behind it and be confident that it won’t blow up your computer. The general non-tech public is the best testbed albeit some with invitation for anything you want to offer to the masses.

  2. yuga says:

    I know, but I think Google “did” popularize the term paving the way for the Web 2.0 buzz.

  3. Migs says:

    The open source mantra: Release Early, Release Often.

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