It's been more than five years since Google launched its webmail service Gmail, and since then it's been in beta despite performance standards that stack up well, if not better, than against all other competing services.
Besides just an innovative email service, Google has also launched a calendar, word processor and instant messenger applications. Up until today, they were also in a beta state, but that's no longer the case.
As Matthew Glotzbach of Google announced the move in the company blog, saying, "Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs and Google Talk — both enterprise and consumer versions — are now out of beta. 'Beta' will be removed from the product logos today, but we'll continue to innovate and improve upon the applications whether or not there's a small 'beta' beneath the logo."
Google didn't push four products out of beta today just because all hit new milestones at the same time, but rather it was something to do with customer perception. In particular, businesses are understandably shy of any software that's still in beta, as often the label is associated with unfinished and unstable products.
"We've come to appreciate that the beta tag just doesn't fit for large enterprises that aren't keen to run their business on software that sounds like it's still in the trial phase," added Glotzbach. "So we've focused our efforts on reaching our high bar for taking products out of beta, and all the applications in the Apps suite have now met that mark."
Funnily enough, Google has considered that a fraction of its audience may be unable to accept that Gmail is no longer in beta. Glotzbach wrote, "One more thing — for those who still like the look of 'beta', we've made it easy to re-enable the beta label for Gmail from the Labs tab under Settings."
Putting a faux beta label on your Gmail sort of cheapens the whole experience now, doesn't it?
Up till the moment they dropped the need to get an invite i knew several people that really wanted gmail if only to find out what the buzz was all about and thus in a way it was a uber smart marketing move.
Keeping the beta this long might have been just another way to make some of the people using gmail feel like they belong to some elite group.
Its in my humble opinion the same as some tools never seem to leave beta stadium like for as far as i can remember firefox was stuck in 0.x for ages.