Monday, April 6, 2009

Eternal Beta

Gmail's fifth birthday has come and gone. In those five years Gmail has steadily gained against the established competition and has demonstrated far more creativity. However there is one little nagging fact that everyone keeps talking about: why is gmail still in beta?

A five year beta is just silly. PhD's have been written in shorter periods of time. Betas typically mean a product that is having little or no features added and is mostly working on stability and bug squashing. Gmail does not fit this paradigm. It has been mostly stable (ignoring the service outages, which are not a problem with the Gmail code itself) and a solid performer for years now with more focus on feature additions it seems.

The real killer is the fact that there is Gmail Labs. Google's product labs have been about experimental functionality and "not ready for prime time" sort of projects. Hmmm. Does this sound like alpha and beta software? So Gmail is even mature enough to have its own alpha/beta system. How can you really have a beta within a beta? Honestly, come on. It's time you let your baby free Googles!

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