Google Peels Beta Label Off Most Online Apps

Google Inc. last week took the beta label off of several key Google Apps services, including Gmail, Calendar, Talk and Docs.

The full Google Apps suite targeting businesses was launched two years ago and has been in beta ever since. Some of the individual packages have been in beta even longer -- Gmail has worn the tag for five-plus years.

In a blog post last week, Matt Glotzbach, product management director for Google Enterprise, acknowledged that the long beta period had led some users to assume that the services weren't ready for corporate use.

"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," Glotzbach said.

Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group Inc., agreed that the beta label likely hurt sales to corporate users, but he added that its removal puts more pressure on Google to avoid service shutdowns.

"If there were problems, Google could always fall back on the 'But it's a beta' line," he said. "They don't have that excuse anymore."

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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