Web 2.0 solutions are often said to be in “Constant Beta“. Instead of running a long development cycle and coming out with a final product release, there is this iterative approach where the product reaches the users in record times, and the product usage insights are harvested for further improvements in the next development cycle.
Let’s look at the factors that facilitate the Constant Beta approach of product development. I think the biggest factor leading to Constant Beta is the delivery of products as services. Software services are hosted at a central location and are controlled by the service providers. These services are easy to update and can take fast upgrades leading to continuous improvement of the product. Agile Development approaches like eXtreme Programming and Scrum are used in the services world to get the product out of the door as fast as possible followed by constant iterative improvements.
Other factors that encourage Constant Beta approach are competitive nature of industry and fast evolution of services. Internet is a fiercely competitive environment where new start-ups emerge every day doing things in a better way. In such an environment, you got to keep evolving your offering to retain the customers.
In this Constant Beta world, I believe the beta tag is debatable. We can either say that it is understood that the product is always in a state of “work under progress” or stick the beta tag to it for ever making it almost irrelevant.