I've never understood why CPAN authors put their module numbers so low.
I'd guess that, at the beginning, it's a confidence issue. I'd think of it as, hey, I'm posting a module that seems to work for me, but it hasn't been widely tested yet: let's not get everyone's hopes up. After that, well, small incremental changes don't really merit a major version number increment, do they?
I agree with you; it's always rather odd to see stable, mature software with a sub-1.0 version number (slrn, anyone?). Of course, there's plenty of "production" software that really shouldn't be out of alpha yet.
Yours in pedantry,
"Anything you put in comments is not tested and easily goes out of date." -- tye