beta rationale, strategy and implementation
Please, need direction concerning beta rationale, strategy and implementation. That is actual user beta vs automatic. From a marketing perspective, any value in user beta strategy?
Re: beta rationale, strategy and implementation
I am not entirely sure what you mean by "actual user beta vs automatic" so I will not attempt to speak to that.
Beta releases can depend on how you use the term and the concept. Sometimes beta releases are external, other times only done internally. They can go to customers or they can go to end-users or they can go to both (and, yes, there is a difference between a customer and an end-user in strict product/project management parlance).
The rationale is that it lets your end-users see that there actually is something you are developing (i.e., it is not just market-hype) and whets their appetites for it. So from a marketing perspective, there is no doubt that there is value because it gets your brand out there in general but also touts your specific product as part of that brand. (Beta strategies are also really helpful when you know a product is going to be delayed.)
Beta releases are also used as a form of testing. Specifically, a type of distributed user acceptance testing to help find defects. It is not even so much to help find usability issues because that should have been figured out long before you get to the stage of beta releases to outside groups. Is this a good thing? Not if it is used as a backstop to any quality testing initiative but there is no doubt that it is beneficial because outside users will not be constrained by test cases nor will they have been reading a specification for a couple of months that might predispose their thinking towards certain methods of operation.
The strategy has to be determined by what the goals of the beta release are. If it is just to get the product out there in some form that people can play with and get excited about, the strategy will center on market saturation for the given target base. If the strategy is more for savvy users to help find issues, defects, etc. then a more targeted campaign is done to get the beta to people who will most likely be able to help in that regard.
The implementation can be different depending on what audience is targeted, the type of application, etc. Consider the differences between how Microsoft packages betas (or release candidates) and how Mozilla.org does it. Also consider the response that each expects from the betas. This goes all the way to distribution as well. Some companies make sure to get their betas on CDs that are in popular magazines, whereas others make sure that links to their betas are placed on popular sites.
This is all kind of general but so were the original questions. Hopefully this makes some sort of sense.