What does “beta” really mean?

Earlier this month, we had an opportunity to pitch at the Test Track event for TRAFFIC Vancouver. This was our first public ‘hello world’ as we start down a process that is sure to be a wild ride. As part of this, we built a website for our brand and slapped up a “Beta” next to the logo, after all… we were truly in Beta.

This gave us a chance to reminisce to four years ago when a few of our principles were involved in another startup and we labeled the initial release as”First Draft”, arguing that “Beta” in the world of Web 2.0 software often implied a product that was, “entirely workable, defect free, and a good option for all that ails them.”

Here is an excerpt from the blog post that was writte for that launch, as come to  think of it, a lot of what we have done so far definitely falls into the whole concept of “first draft” as well.

Unfortunately, people (thanks in large part to Google and the whole Web 2.0 phenomenon/bubble) expect that when you see Beta next to a product, it is entirely workable, defect free, and a good option for all that ails them. Heck, even Microsoft is charging for their Beta.

Our justification for naming is just this. Think back to writing those college/university papers when you first put all your thoughts down on paper. Sometimes you get it right the very first time and your prose are perfect, and with a few edits here and there … whammo – you submit an A+ paper. But the reality for most of us isn’t like that. You put your first draft together with an underlying genesis of an idea at the core, cobbled together with bits and pieces of stories you read, the odd plagiarized copy here and there [legal note: this is a reference to using Google’s API, not an Apple/Creative thing], and paragraphs that sound good, but you know they are not in the final order. If it is a thesis, you may even have a committee who reviews your first draft and offers you feedback on how to improve, change, modify, etc. You may even get steered down an entirely different path by the feedback you receive. And that is why it is Calgoo First Draft.

And like the term paper, we gave ourselves a deadline. Otherwise, products are never released, and they will never be more than 90% done. So if you want to label it, you can call it version 1.0 if you must. But we ask this of you, don’t grade us yet. This is just the beginning.

So like then as is now… this is just the beginning.