Blog Post

The Beta As An Excuse?

The Wall Street Journal is talking about the recent craze for Beta only products jump started by Google aka “king of beta.” I am sure there are a lot of people who think it is a good thing, but to me it represents a malaise no one talks about: lack of focus and intimate knowledge of what you are trying to build. Amongst the two most used Web 2.0 products out in the market never did live-betas. Flickr was a well conceived product, with Stewart and Caterina figuring out precisely the features they wanted in the product. They have made incremental changes, but hardcore Flickr users tell me, it was the shizzle from early on. Ditto for Net News Wire, which despite its age, is the best RSS reader for the Mac. Its version 2.0 is a little different from the original, and Brent Simmons has added support for say Podcasts, but the basic premise hasn’t changed. I kinda say the technology business is still an inexact science. JZ’s Apple iPod problems, constant virus problems and all that stuff…. if tech industry was Detroit, well Congressional inquiry would be under way by now.

Update: Apparently boys from 37Signals, another company which thinks its products through, had caught onto beta-as-an-excuse nearly a year ago.

12 Responses to “The Beta As An Excuse?”

  1. I have to agree with you OM – I used to love being a part of beta programmes. Now, nearly every service I use is in ‘Beta’ or ‘Release Candidate’ – the latest posh way of saying beta!

    I think another problem I’ve spotted is that, yes there are lots of cool services emerging, but are they really services that the mass market will want? I have a sneaky suspicion that what it is the same core group of users who are all registering for the same services, reading each others blogs etc etc