Private betas01 May 2006
I read about new web application launches frequently, and as you can guess it's always interesting to me to evaluate what others are building. However, it seems like more and more sites are launching under "private beta" status where you give them your contact information and may or may not receive an access key to try out their application. This is annoying on so many levels:
- It feels like middle school all over again. Am I cool enough to get invited to their
- Why call it a private beta when it's not really private? I stumbled upon all the private betas I know about as the result of some publicity. If it's really private, they should keep it between themselves and their VC friends, not send out press releases or post the site to Digg and Slashdot.
- It's arrogant. They achieved one of the hardest things to do on the web — capture my interest long enough for me to visit their site. But I didn't see anything, so they shouldn't think that I'm eagerly awaiting their launch and am going to keep coming back. Unless they're Microsoft, Google, or some other heavyweight, I'm probably not going to think of them again.
- I don't register for anything unless I get something of value. Even then, I'll likely try BugMeNot to get around it. Sure, they tell me I'm not going to get any spam, but I've been told that before, and I'd at least like a little value before taking that risk.
- "Beta" is just the Web 2.0 word for "Under Construction". Yes, I too had one of those animated GIFs of flashing yellow lights and a construction barricade on my homepage. But that was 10 years ago, and we've all since learned that every website is always under construction. The word "beta" is getting to be as gaudy as those animated GIFs.
The only benefit to doing this that I can think of to doing this is that you don't want to be deluged by new customers because of support and infrastructure costs. But I can't see a new site getting hit like this unless it's launched by one of the aforementioned heavyweights. And in that case they should be able to absorb that cost pretty quickly.
All this being said, I'm finishing up development on a second web service, and have a true private beta up for anyone who's interested. I think it'll be especially interesting for anyone that uses RSS pretty frequently. There a number of finishing touches left before I release it possibly in the next week couple weeks, but it's otherwise stable, and I'm using it on a regular basis now. Shoot me an email or IM if you want to try it out.