One of the interesting things about Google is that they tend to have products in beta for a very long period of time, despite the fact that they for all purposes ceased to be a beta product some time earlier. The single best example is Gmail, which was in "beta" for years, despite it feeling far more like a finished product.
I'm beginning to wonder if we are starting to follow the same track. It seems like the site betas are getting longer and longer, to the point that right now we have 2 sites that are in beta after over a year of work. Even popular sites, like Skeptics, Personal Money, and On Startups, are looking to extend this period. Compared to when I first joined Stack Exchange, the amount of time in beta seems to have doubled or tripled.
We've had 3 sites achieve full status recently (Database Administrators, Bicycles, and IT Security) but aside from that, it's been 4 months since a site has been fully released. I know in the end it doesn't really matter all that much, but it would be nice in a lot of ways to have more sites be promoted.
In my understanding, there is several benefits which promoted sites receive. Perhaps the largest is the ability to elect their moderators. Others include a custom theme, restricting some of the privileges to the core group of users, being subject to the Stack Exchange Data Explorer (And thus being able to run cool analysis scripts on the site), and just being recognized as an official site.
So, I guess all of this comes down to, are betas becoming more difficult to finish, is that a good thing, and why?