I'm not so biased when things are free against Beta, as the trade off for getting to try the new and shinny products and software requires some quid-pro-quo, with the quo being "pain, blues and agony" at times. What I am opposed to is paying for Beta as finished goods.
We regularly push out beta products for review to the media, analysts and bloggers. In all cases we hope their well informed opinions will help our clients deliver a better final product. As a constant user of products that are new, I am perhaps the toughest grader of the bunch, often finding bugs that result in the "oh crap" or the labeling as the "Bug Doctor" by one friend who was a client in the past. Finding the issues is one thing. Taking the time to report them back is another, and by doing so the general public shouldn't ever see them. But that requires rapid action, agile programming and a commitment to excellence.
Many products ship to make the deadlines. In our era of rush, rush and JIT (Just in Time) management, mistakes cost everyone in the long run.