iOS App: Beta vs Launch Quietly?

We're launching our app soon but we're wondering if we should do a closed beta or launch quietly... We know that launching in beta would give us good initial users and content creation (brand and community), but the downside of doing a beta is the friction for users to get on the application due to cumbersome process (TestFlight etc.) Some of us are afraid that people would churn because of this and suggesting launching the app quietly. Was anyone in the same situation? How do you go about doing this? Thanks in advance


I would suggest launching in a foreign app store only (ex: Canada). That will allow you to get more organic users to continue iterating without a big push.

I got this idea from Matt Brezina (Founder of Sincerely, previously Xobni) - he's the man when it comes to testing & iterating mobile apps.

Answered 8 years ago

I think deliberating private beta ends up with a lot of wasted effort. It's far better to recruit your initial user panel and learn a ton there especially with something like TeamStory that is essentially expecting to successfully establish a new behaviour amongst its users.

I think Dan and Austin's advice is right for a lot of apps but not for something like TeamStory

Answered 8 years ago

I'd second what Dan said. Pick a small country, such as Canada, and do a quiet launch. Even if I get people to register their devices and join a beta distribution on TestFlight, it is still difficult to get real, workable feedback from them.

But if you launch in an App Store and make it very clear in your description and through in-app prompts that you're looking for feedback then you'll be able to iterate much faster. You'll also turn some of those early adopters into your most vocal advocates.

Once you've worked all of the kinks out of your MVP, and have validated your learning, a la Eric Ries, you can be confident that you've created something people really want.

One last thing: using the quiet launch as your beta will encourage you to ship this thing faster. The app ecosystem evolves so rapidly that I've come to believe that shipping an imperfect product is smarter than waiting for perfection. It's not until you hear from users that you know what perfection is anyway.

Hope this helps,

Answered 8 years ago

I'm of the opinion of launching as soon as you can. You can only really learn when the app hits the wild. Realize though that apps are not websites, they can't be iterated as fast and a furry of bad reviews because of a buggy launch can haunt you forever. Some initial closed, pre-App Store launch is needed to make sure the basics are covered. No crashes, no major UX bottlenecks and ease of performing the 2-3 main things you want people to do.

Dan's idea is great if you'd like to save the US (or any other country of your choice ) for a big launch with press and a furry of users. Then you'd want some things further iron out. Some apps never do this and just organically grow their way to awareness by pure awesomeness and hustle.

Btw, love the idea and just signed up for the beta ;)

Answered 8 years ago

If your app is based on large numbers and collaboration/team, I'd go with public launch. Betas are good for initial feedback (almost pre-MVP) or for apps that target power users.
However, no one is stopping you from doing both if you have doubts.

Answered 8 years ago

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