Daring Fireball comments that
— people thought that what Google meant by “beta” was what everyone else means by “beta”.
on the basis of this from Google:
…particularly those who subscribe to the traditional definition of “beta” software as not being yet ready for prime time.
Thing is, that isn’t the “traditional definition” of beta. Beta simply means that the software is undergoing an external test period of some description. It doesn’t imply anything about quality, and it never did.
If the version that was released as a beta turns out not to have any major bugs, it’s entirely possible that that same code (albeit with the beta tag removed) will subsequently be released.
I don’t know where this whole “not ready for prime time” thing came from—though I’ve seen mention of it before elsewhere—but it’s simply not true.