Carl Bialik writes "Noting that Google News has been labeled 'beta' for nearly three years, and Microsoft's antispyware program for nearly a year, the Wall Street Journal looks at why 'beta' lasts so long these days. The article mentions the usefulness of getting the masses to test the product, but also notices another possible reason: 'Betas also have become a marketing device in a fiercely competitive industry, allowing software and Internet firms to release new products or services sooner and cultivate early buzz. Betas, which once had been quietly distributed, are trumpeted in press releases and at news conferences. "I deplore it as a consumer; I admire it as a marketing professional," said Peter Sealey, a marketing professor at the University of California at Berkeley and former chief marketing officer at Coca-Cola Co. "I can't come up with anything else in the entire marketing world where marketers knowingly introduce a flawed or inadequate product [and] it helps grow your user base." '"
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