Friday, April 3, 2009

Non-Free Beta?

Yes, the blog is full of stuff about ItsTweetTime and the ideas recently. Well, there's no blog for ITT yet so for now the ideas go here. This is something I'd like to try out and get some ideas about, so feedback is important from you, my hopeful Paying Beta Customer.

There's two phases and two sections of ITT. The two sections are free and paid; the phases within the paid section are not-free-but-cheap and not-free-but-worth-every-penny.

The problem: I want good, solid feedback from interested users to help develop the product from beta stage to incredibly useful stage.

While the beta is in progress, the price of becoming a beta tester will be $20 bucks. So, you may be thinking....Why would I pay for a beta product that isn't fully functional and still evolving? Because by being a paid beta tester, you won't ever have to pay a monthly fee for the paid-for version! It's a chance to get in early and cheap and help influence the direction that ITT will be heading. The other option is to wait until it gets released as a functional product and pay $X per month (which is TBD).

I think this will help both of us out. I get a little money to cover server costs and you get an incredibly cheap barrier to entry on the ground level to make the product better for you. I'll only be accepting a limited number of beta testers that way I can actually keep up with all the great ideas everyone has. If you really just feel that your $20 bucks to be a tester isn't worth it, I'll refund your money while the product is still in beta but you'll have to join up like everyone else later on if you decide that the mature product is something you're interested in.

Of course, you can just try out the free version and see how you like it, too. It will be a very simplified single feature out of the premium stuff. It'll have some solid functionality, but nothing earth-shaking that you couldn't do on your own without some basic programming knowledge. It's meant to be a teaser to get you salivating to have the cool version and do cool things.

I don't know that this model is used elsewhere. I can't remember coming across it before, at least. Feedback would be great and if you think this is just a shit idea, let me know. You're my Paying Beta Customer and I'd like to make something great for you.


  1. The idea of an early adopter getting a cheap, lifetime contract is good. But it's probably better to offer it after they have tested the pro version, but before it is released from beta. It's hard to get people to commit to something before they've had a taste.

    Then again, Lock n' Load Games offers something similar called P-500. You get a discounted price to purchase a board game that's hasn't been fully developed yet, and if they get enough people to "preorder" they make the game and those preorders get it cheap, otherwise they are never charged.

    Without buzz, you'll have a hard time getting beta testers. Once you have something work, post it on hacker news and/or submit it to TechCrunch.

  2. Something like give a free week first, then ask to be a beta tester under the same rules as before?

  3. Or maybe just say...You're a beta tester, thanks! Whenever we move from beta to real product, you'll have the chance to get in at $20 bucks for a lifetime subscription (assuming you provided some feedback).

    Maybe then give them a window of some time where the deal is valid.

  4. Exactly.

    Though as I am sitting here thinking. Making "Pro" free for all of Beta, but at any time during beta your can lock into "Pro" for $20 might work too. Or even a graduated plan. Without trying "Pro Beta" you can lock in for $10. Under one month with "Pro Beta" $15. One month or more $25. But once it's out of beta, you are SOL and must pay the normal fee.

    You could also look at just accepting donations to lock in and running adds on the site under beta. Two questions potential customers will have while in beta is:
    - Will this ever be released? (90% of project won't)
    - Will it be worth paying $$ for?

  5. I like the "locking in" aspect of the price. Its a solid vote of confidence without having to wait until the move from beta. Give a heads up right before it comes out of beta and then if you didn't lock in, then you pay full price. I like this.

    I don't like the idea of ads right now. I've played around with the idea of using some sort of twitter ad network, but I'm just not sold yet on how much it's worth $$$-wise as opposed to taking up valuable real estate on the screen to add more features.

  6. I don't like the idea of paying for a web service, never have. You don't have to pay to use twitter -- I still think you're going to have a tough time charging people to use this service. Are there any other twitter services that you have to pay for?

    I would keep the service free to gain a user base, then think about monetizing it. You're not going to get people to pay to be a beta tester, when they're doing you a favor of testing it for you.

    Another thought, if you charge people to use ITT, then someone will come along and create a better version and release it for free.


You know you want to comment.....just do it.