Beta Products and Responsibility



Posted on Saturday 14 January 2006

Interesting article about Betas by Stephen Bryant at Publish.com. I particularly find this observation interesting:

“But in light of the importance of e-mail, does Google have a responsibility to stabilize Gmail? Yes. Imagine if any other product development company released such widespread public betas. What if the entire 2006 Ford product line was a beta? What if your local supermarket was beta?”

What Bryant does not mention is the powerful psychological mechanism an exclusive beta test will produce: buy-in and a VIP feel from and for those who become part of it. The empowerment generated through a priviledged involvement with a product not yet available to the general public should not be underestimated. Broadly public betas, on the contrary, are lots less effective for creating positive advocacy, because they lack that very exclusivity moment.