Monday, September 11, 2006

The Groovy 'Beta' Head band

Read about 'Stop Using the "beta" label' from Webreakstuff . It is really interesting to see 'Beta' which used to mean a product that is not yet ready, could be buggy, and still need improvement before it is released to the masses, take a turn these day becoming the trendiest tag in the web2.0 world .

You just can't imagine Motorola releasing a handphone to the market with a label 'beta' or 'testing' on it. Or a Ferrari car being sold in the market with the 'beta' tag on it.

Of course, you could argue that web application is a totally different business model, it is often offered as free services, so since it is free, don't complain. But people are actually putting in personal data into these services, especially when a lot of web applications are social networking tools. So why is the different?

Some said Web app is different from other consumer product, that it is not an end product, but it is an evolving-stable-beta-product (as in the comment by knowologist in that same post). I think that is true for those sites that are being updated frequently. But most of the time, it is being used so freely without second-thought.

I guess much is due to what the 'Beta' tags hints. When a web application carrying a 'Beta' tag, it almost like saying I will be the next big thing in the web 2.0 wave, and now I am still at 'beta', you are privilege enough to be invited to be the early adopter. Wow, that almost feels like being invited to a private party being held in a garage somewhere. If the application is good enough, those privilege beta users will start blog about their evangelist experience, and through words of mouth, the application start to gain popularity and popularity bring in more users, the snowball just roll on.

Seeing this, every new web application want to join in the 'Beta' trend, without realizing what build up the words of mouth is the 'good' enough part, not the 'beta' tag. Simply putting a Beta tag on the logo wouldn't make it a better application.

But trend is something come and goes. I think a lot of us start to get a bit bored with this 'beta' tags now. Perhaps Web applications will start to drop this tag real soon, who knows. Anyone still remember the groovy head gear on everyone head in the 80's?

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