The Perpetual Beta Concept

January 30th, 2008 | Categories: launch, marketing, networks, social media, trends

Pioneered by Google, the BETA concept is now commonplace in the new web world. Before reaching saturation levels, this concept was an actual useful process. Now, self-proclaimed “BETA testers” are none other than regular users. These people are not submitting bugs or providing feedback. It is at this point that any company should drop the label.

Sourcing the always trusty Wikipedia, we find that a BETA version is defined as:

“…the first version released outside the organization or community that develops the software, for the purpose of evaluation or real-world black/grey-box testing.”

Haha. This makes me laugh. How many users of web 2.0 BETA services actually partake in real-world black/grey-box testing? My guess is not very many. Therefore, the label no longer applies.

In theory, all products and services are always in BETA. They are in constant need of testing and debugging. There is no such thing as a perfect product.

A BETA period should last a specific period of time OR until any major bugs and kinks have been worked out of the system. But this isn’t the case. As I noted in the post title, the concept of a “perpetual BETA” isn’t rare. Many new products and services never leave the BETA stage. After all, once BETA version 1.0 has been released, why not market BETA version 2.0?

The obvious conclusion is that more and more company are attempting to leverage this label in an effort to create buzz and stimulate growth. I have a message for them: the fad is over. It’s not trendy anymore. You’re degrading and disrespecting the Greek alphabet. I beg you to stop. End of story.

Note 1: I wrote a similar post about that BETA invite system, which you can read here: Is The BETA Invite System Flawed?.

Note 2: I do understand that the actual term “perpetual BETA” does exist. But once again, I think many companies are abusing and misusing the term for marketing purposes.

One Comment

  1. Tomahawk Says:

    I really have to agree with you that the beta system standard is flawed and gotten out of hand. I am currently a private beta test of a couple web 2.0 sites (,, and they are still truely beta sites, especially, although since was acquired by Google, and hasn’t changed much in quite a while I would be surprise if went into Perpetual beta and open up to the general population. It’s really kind of sad, because many times I like to thing that I am part of something on the brink of cutting edge, only to find out that I’m just a schmoe. Oh, well!

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