Google finally dropped the "beta" label from GMail. A bit hasty, no? The product launched just half a decade ago; its inventor left Google barely 18 months back. Why the rush to commit?

There was a certain raffish charm in Google's "beta" fetish. Six months ago, nearly half of its products carried the geeky monicker, meaning "not ready for prime time." Google was charging real money for premium versions of some of the products, but most people didn't pay. So whenever the system went down, the company could shrug its shoulders and effectively say, "things happen."

Now Google will have to issue slightly more abject non-apologies. On the bright side, all of those people who have been waiting to adopt GMail once its out of beta can now sign up. Get ready to finally see some "" addresses in your inbox! (Ahem.)