Google Reaches 10 – But Is It Really Grown Up?

29 09 2008

Google has reached the decade milestone – as noted in the last Just Google It post, but is the 10-year-old company really all grown up?

Web monitoring service Pingdom has discovered that a lot of Google’s products are all still in Beta staging, meaning, by definiton of beta as an adjective, they are not technically finished. 22 of Google’s 49 products, a huge 45%, as still tagged as Beta. Now this may not be shocking as Google are developing new products all the time and some are still very flimsy, but the biggest names in this list are Orkut, launched in January 2004, and Gmail, which was launched on Apirl Fools day 2004. Google Docs is also a big surprise as its celebrates is 2nd birthday in a matter of days.

Google Beta Products

Google Beta Products

Google can be forgiven for things like Chrome, Knol and Alerts being in Beta, but what justification do they have for keeping a highly-used product like Gmail in Beta for over four years?

Thanks to Paul McNamara of networkworld.com, a Google spokesperson said:

We have very high internal metrics our consumer products have to meet before coming out of beta. Our teams continue to work to improve these products and provide users with an even better experience.  We believe beta has a different meaning when applied to applications on the Web, where people expect continual improvements in a product.  On the Web, you don’t have to wait for the next version to be on the shelf or an update to become available.  Improvements are rolled out as they’re developed. Rather than the packaged, stagnant software of decades past, we’re moving to a world of regular updates and constant feature refinement where applications live in the cloud.

Ok. So Google say these products are in Beta because they are continually being updated and refined. That seems like a plausible answer. But what about the 55% of non-Beta products like Adwords and Analytics? Are they not being updated? Are they being left to become, in Google’s own words, stagnant software?

Of course not. That is just trying to stir up trouble. My general view is that Google is fond of the Beta tag because it allows them to dismiss any problems, be it performance bugs or security loopholes, as the product’s “improvements are rolled out as they’re developed”

This is all just a storm in Google’s Gcup.

The full list of Google Beta products (thanks to Pingdom) is below…

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