Beta Overload

Rob Hof

I love new Web services as much as the next guy, but doesn't it seem like all these alpha and beta sites have gotten a little out of hand? I've read dozens of stories and reviews (and blog posts) about Yahoo's new mail service despite the fact that most of the millions of Yahoo subscribers can't get it--me (sniff) included. Time magazine just ran a review of the Riya photo recognition service even though only about 1,000 chosen testers can try it because it's "so alpha it hurts." Mike Arrington seems to have made a career out of introducing new Web services just-outta-alpha, with names that are increasingly baroque. (Not that I mind--keep it coming, Mike!) But for the companies putting out all this stuff, I'm wondering if a little less coyness and a little more coding in the garage before the wraps come off would serve them and their eventual users better in the long run.

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