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We have all heard the term “beta” and I’m not talking about the dreadful beta used in statistics or in stock risk calculations.  I’m talking about the “beta” we see before virtually every new tech company that emerges.  Just take a look at the web 2.0 directory and you will see that a fairly large portion of the companies have “beta” written just after (or before) their company name.  But what does the beta mean?  Well beta is supposed to mean that the company has a product that they wanted to test out on a few people, then, when testing is complete, the company will move out of beta and will officially launch to the public.  OR Beta can mean “we’re covering our ass in case something goes bad, that way, we can just tell people we’re in beta and problems are expected.”

There are a few things to know about “beta”

  • Until you fully launch and open your doors to everyone (unless it’s a restricted service) you’re in beta
  • If you are still testing anything, you are in beta
  • If you just launched your product but you haven’t tested it yet, guess what, you’re still in beta
  • Beta is not meant to justify problems, it’s more of a “be patient and work with us” notification
  • If you don’t know if your company is in beta, then it’s most likely in beta
  • If you are scared to announce yourself because of competition, you’re in beta
  • You probably should not be in beta for more than 1 year max, otherwise you probably have some problems
  • If you are in beta then you should be constantly rolling out new features and fixing bugs, beta is not a stage during which you sit around, beta = product development at a rapid pace
  • Beta is all about taking the feedback you get from your beta users and turning it into something tangible, like a new feature or design element

Beta has become almost cliche, it’s a term that virtually every new startup attached to itself.  Some beta companies do not even know they are in beta.  Other companies are in beta but tell users that they are not because they want to appear more established.  Either way, let’s start using the term “beta” for what it really is.  Beta means:

“The initial development and testing stages of a product or a company that relies heavily on feedback from beta testers.  During the beta stage a company should make observable and measurable changes and improvements based on beta tester feedback.  Beta also means developing the business side of a company from pr to marketing and go to market strategy.  Post beta means opening up the flood gates and being able to handle it.”

How else would you define beta?

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