Beta testing is an important phase of product development through which a sample of target users (potential adopters) try a product ahead of its official release. Such testing is practically ubiquitous; in every kind of company, from medicine to software development, participants test and troubleshoot products to help improve their performance and avoid defects.
Companies should care who their beta testers are. In order to generalize beta-testing outcomes, the population of testers must be as representative of the target users as possible. If not, results of the testing could be biased and fail to capture important product flaws; that is, beta testing for different purposes demands different sets of beta testers. Such aspects of beta testing are often underestimated by software developers; their companies often use any beta tester available, without proper selection, and later without analyzing to what extent the testers were comparable to the population of (targeted) users. Though it was once easier for companies to know their beta testers well,6 this is not the case today due to the vast reach of the Internet and quickening pace of releasing updates and new versions. They should indeed pay more attention to their testers, selecting wisely, because appropriate beta testing is more efficient and economical than later potential failure of a new product.
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