Everything Google launches into the market almost comes in “beta.” Using the “beta” approach, Google gets new products or features out into the marketplace quickly, then improve them as they are used. That’s basically the Google experience.
The “beta” approach is in fact an irresponsible act. It simply undermines the traditional marketing mix, which is the combination of product, price, place and promotion, or better known as the 4Ps. In order to delight customers, product has to meet customer needs and wants. Product simply has to be “completed”, or at least fully ready for consumption, before it is released to the market. But beta? It is still in the testing stage of the product development cycle. Who wants a product that is not perfect?
Besides beta, there is also alpha. In the future, there may even be gamma, delta, epsilon… This beta culture is starting to contaminate the external market. Microsoft is also launching Windows Live Mail Beta. But, who cares? The market seems to accept the greek alphabet concept. It either means that the 4Ps are no longer valid, or that the customer is now having more involvement in product development, so that the final product will be exactly what the customers asks for.
Beta encourages trial and error, which is a necessary requirement for improvement. As long as the enterprise thinks well to the end and considers first the end, beta is an acceptable process to achieve excellence; else, it is only going to be “beta” forever.