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Thursday, December 11, 2021

alpha beta
Thanks to an environment which encourages the enshrinement of half-baked product releases, the move by Google to take its Chrome browser officially out of beta stage is, paradoxically, regarded as an oddity.

Here’s the official reasoning:

Google said it decided to take Chrome out of beta because of improvements to the browser’s stability and security. Among other things, Chrome now does a better job of playing video and audio than it was first introduced, loads pages even more quickly and offers more controls over bookmarks and privacy, according to Google.

Does this mean that Chrome is a “finished” product? Of course not. But that doesn’t matter, because dropping that “beta” label was all about marketing and branding, and scarcely at all about technical qualification.

The real motivation is Google’s desire to increase the number of Web surfers running Chrome, and fast. It’s still got less than 1 percent of a browser market that’s dominated by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and (to a far lesser extent) Mozilla’s Firefox and Apple’s Safari (along with Opera and other niche players). Google’s already built up a respectable user base just on the cachet of its existing reputation, but it’s got a long way to go to make Chrome a mass-market platform. And, since it’s at a competitive disadvantage versus IE’s pre-installed delivery, Google needs to find any edge it can to promote Chrome’s dissemination.

And note: None of the other browsers mentioned above have a “beta” next to their names. They’re all always in continual states of development, and the geeks will constantly be running the bleeding-edge nightly release of the next upgraded browser version; but once a version goes gold, Microsoft and Apple and the rest don’t keep a beta tag on the final product.

Google’s feedback from Chrome non-users must have tipped them off to some aversion among mainstream folks over using a browser that practically labeled itself as not-quite-finished.

So Mountain View simply dropped the “beta” in a pure marketing move. The irony is that it’s such an empty signifier these days anyway, to the point where a beta culture in technology development ensures shoddy end-results. Of course Chrome is still “in beta”, just as every other piece of software is — it’s just not reminding everyone about it, and thus providing an illusion of product stability.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 12/11/2021 07:18:05 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Internet, Tech
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