Letter: A generation of beta-testers
As a coveted Millennial, I find the HealthCare.gov coverage fascinating. Democrats need us to subsidize more expensive Americans joining the insurance pool, while Republicans need us to stay away to drive up Obamacare’s cost. Our decision on whether to sign up will decide the fate of the American health care system.
So why, after an awful website launch and weeks of bad press, did a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll show nearly 2-1 that we planned to sign up for health insurance in 2014?
The truth is, Millennials are a generation of beta-testers. Beta tests, essentially trial runs, are used to discover and fix issues before releasing a product to the general public. Tech companies have replaced this practice with releasing their products earlier on in their life cycles and then troubleshooting the problems with this first group of customers.
These early adopters are overwhelmingly Millennials. Older generations tend to expect things to “just work”; we don’t. When Apple Maps was released, it was so flawed its CEO had to publicly apologize. Overheating Xbox gaming machines spawned the phrase “Red Ring of Death” with 210 million hits on Google. Smartphone manufacturer Nokia created a marketing campaign called “Smartphone Beta Test” to highlight its competitors’ failures.
We view failure in the technological realm as largely transient. We know today’s failure could be tomorrow success story.
Even if it isn’t, what’s the big deal? There’s always something new around the corner.