Is The BETA Invite System Flawed?

August 23rd, 2007 | Categories: blogs, launch, marketing, markets, networks, off topic, social media, strategy, trends

BETA logoHere is a stunning revelation: the BETA invite system has nothing to do with actual testing. Rather, it is simply a marketing ploy aimed at attracting new users. Is this truly a stunning revelation? Or did I just state the obvious?

Historically, a start-up would quietly seek out BETA users to test the product. These individuals would try to break it and take note of any bugs. Feedback was key. This was back in a time when the BETA system was legitimate. Does this sound like a typical ‘BETA tester’ of today? It seems that every start-up graduates from the cliched ’stealth mode’ to the cliched ‘BETA mode’ at some point. Nowadays, these terms are so common that their marketing value has diminished to zero. In other words, these buzz words do not attract the attention and exposure that they once did. Furthermore, the misuse of the term ‘BETA’ is so widespread that rectification cannot be achieved.

Not surprisingly however, this tactic has been succesfully leveraged many times in the past, most notably by Gmail. More recently, Joost caused quite a stir with a similar strategy. But such a system is just not cool any more. People frown upon BETA logos and invite systems. They have become overused to the point of saturation.

BETA products are supposed to be full of bugs. They are supposed to contain errors. But nowadays, it seems that these BETA products are shipped in perfect condition. Why? Because they are intended for the end user, not the supposed BETA tester. Think about it. Who uses a BETA product nowadays? Everyone. This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. If everyone is truly ready to use the product, the ‘BETA’ badge should be dropped. Here’s the way the system should work: if a company is truly in need of BETA users, they should methodically seek out a specific subset of people, rather than proclaim the need over a figurative megaphone. This will attract the wrong crowd.

So just how hot is the BETA invite market? Well, many hard-to-acquire invites have landed on eBay and sold for much higher than their actual value ($0). In addition, TechCrunch recently purchased InviteShare, a BETA invite-sharing community. Interest in the area is obvious and this will further change the shape of this newfangled marketplace/industry.

To close, I have some words of wisdom for any new start-up… “The BETA invite marketing tactic has been played out. It’s really not that sweet any more. Do us all a favour and drop the BETA… Ok? All the best.”


  1. Michael Bhatti Says:

    Definitely agree with you on this one. When MSN came out with its BETA for Messenger Live its operability was perfect and everyone seemed to be using it. If you asked, I wouldn’t even be able to tell you when the full version came out because the switch was seamless.

  2. Mikael Pittam Says:


    There is also a Facebook group called ‘Invites to share’. I created this group before I discovered

  3. The Perpetual Beta Concept Says:

    […] Note: I wrote a similar post about that BETA invite system, which you can read here: Is The BETA Invite System Flawed?.    […]

  4. Most Google applications are in “perpetual beta” « Hashem Almakrami Says:

    […] The Google Maps beta was release in 2005 as beta for more than eight months, during that time the software is running, the feedback collected from the user, and incrementally new feature and enhancement added to it. References: Henry, A. (2007, August 23). Is The BETA Invite System Flawed? Retrieved April 2010, from Mapping the Web […]

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