Here's the scenario:
There is a product with a high learning curve while it's still in beta, but this will be alleviated in the release version.
The product is at a point where it is no longer necessary to be kept stealth, but it never hurts to have it more fine-tuned before the whole world sees it. The company can be a first mover into a niche market, but not positive for how long.
What are the benefits/pitfalls of having a private beta, vs. making a publicly available download-able beta via the website.
Some pros I can think of for a public beta are:
- Increased exposure to potential customers
- Increased exposure to potential partners
- Establishing a market presence early on
- Find out what features customers really want out of the product
- Someone can take the idea if it is pre-maturely exposed to the market
- If it is a large success, the company can potentially be over-burdened by support calls (due to the learning curve to implement the beta) and development may cease. (Although there could be worse problems to have)
Some pros I can think of for a private beta are:
- Testers have more of a "vested" interest in creating products success
- Not susceptible to theft
- Nothing that the company can't handle (support-wise)
- Perhaps no longer first mover to market (another company claims dominant presence)
- Not enough awareness generated and when release comes, no one knows what it is or if they can trust it.
- Testers know too much about product and may not reflect realistic target market (provides inaccurate feedback about product)
Thanks in advance!