Is It Still Beta Once People Rely On It?
from the whose-fault? dept
We’ve noted how all sorts of online services have been going completely offline this past week, but does it make it any better if the service has a “beta” label slapped on it? In the past, we’ve joked about how so many companies are now offering up beta products, often as a marketing ploy. However, it also lets companies respond differently when things do go wrong: “don’t blame us, we told you it was beta software…” or something along those lines. But does that reasoning hold? Sarah Lacy at Business Week notes that so many people have started relying on Gmail that the “well, it’s a beta” excuse doesn’t cut it when people get locked out of their account for days. It’s not entirely clear what’s happening, but apparently some people are unable to access Gmail for extended periods of time — and Google hasn’t been particularly responsive (extra amusing: to contact Google about your Gmail account they expect you to use Gmail — which is difficult when it’s not working). While some people say that it’s only beta and people shouldn’t complain, Lacy points out: “there is no such thing as beta testing email. It’s not an application like Froogle or Google Maps that you can run sometimes, not others. You either use it, or you don’t. And when you use it, you need it.” It does raise some interesting questions about offering “critical” applications as betas.