Final is always beta

Things are never perfect, especially with software. Humans are the solution, but also part of the problem. We think "Ship early, ship often", which floods the market with mediocre products and praises the robot-like mentality. Everyone wants to be the first and gain a bigger "market share". Product lifecycles get shorter and shorter, so more and quicker releases are needed—a clear spiral. But until the lifecycle has finished, we can't know in which phase our product was in or when that phase changed. Comparing ourselves with competitors also won't help.

Early product releases are actually advertisements. Companies want to present themselves in the best possible light and get as many clients as possible, speaking about their products. The goal is to be remembered—even a bad product can be polished later. Spreading the news became more important than the actual news, which became more important than the actual product.

Manager of problem creation

Too often the amount of money people receive is more important to them the the quality of their product or service. Managers should provide the tools, so their employees can complete their tasks and solve their problems in the least amount of time. Insisting on quick work that favors profit over quality, is impulsive and causes emotional responses that make thinking harder. Hard deadlines affect the quality of code and the argument "everyone does it so" can't be an excuse. If we can't retain passion for our product over a period of time, there's no point in releasing it sooner.

Betas underdeliver

Betas are incomplete and potentially buggy software products. The word "beta" already appears on the logos of some online services, which devalues them through an excuse from the start. Few service providers explain why kind of problems people may face in a real-world use, what challenges they had during the software development or how people might be able to help them. Users are more likely to try something new if they know the details behind the scene. "Beta" raises too many questions and the need for better transparency. Despite the missing label, final products aren't always better. Even final is always beta. Big companies like Google and Facebook know it, after their applications became vulnerable to attacks. The process behind final isn't too different from the one behind beta, so the results are similar. There's no point in labeling a product "beta" then.

Betas are also considered over-promising. People speculate with the end result, having high expectations that are rarely met. Because of this psychological effect, beta versions actually underdeliver. A finished product promises nothing more than it already is, but it doesn't mean it's flawless.

Some thoughts from Bono, Blizzard and me

Final fails—it's always beta. Constant, gradual improvement is the most important thing while creating something new. Bono of U2 says: "We always have the feeling that we arrive and not that we are there". It's a fallacy then to think that early shipping brings us "there", when it was only the start of our journey. This might kill our creativity or make us unable to throw away our hard work when the result isn't good enough. Our life and everything we do is in perpetual beta. When the famous game "Starcraft" was about to be released, the developers of Blizzard were asked by journalists about the release date. Their answer was: "We'll ship it, when we're ready". This could be one of the reasons why Blizzard became so successful. Their philosophy can be applied to all new developments.

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