Decentralized Apps – Yes, They're the Future, but They're Definitely not in the Present
Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies, and dApps are not without their polarized audiences. For the firm supporters of Decentralized Applications [dApps], they represent, not just the future of applications online, but the future of the internet as a whole.
But for their detractors, they're solutions to problems no-one had, they're too technical for widespread use, and at their worst, they're application tarpits into which millions of dollars are thrown never to be seen again.
So what does this mean for IDEX or Augur? Are they the first successful generation? Or are they the latest in a line of ambitious failures?
Decentralized Cash? Absolutely, Decentralized Apps? Not so much
Some of the most recent additions to the world of dApps, particularly the world of decentralized gaming, have been riding on the success of FOMO3D, pretty much pyramid and Ponzi schemes and have done little to necessarily help the reputation of dApps as money-pits.
It's become fashionable to trash dApps, but it's admirable that developers keep on experimenting with them. Some of the shining examples have been dApps in the form of coin exchanges and some games, with massive levels of investment funding being poured into games like CryptoKitties and Gods Unchained recently.
Augur is another one, it hit the right kind of notes with investors, functioning as both an investment and a speculative gambling site, reaching $311 million worth of funding.
But while the money gives the impression of dApps being a booming, densely populated marketplace, the truth is far from that. On average, daily active users can fluctuate from anything as high as 60, to as low as 0 for days and sometimes weeks, for particular dApps.
Augur, in particular, gives the impression with that much funding, that there would be more users, but as of yet, makes 60 DAUs with little sign of it increasing.
Anyone interested in looking at just how many active users certain dApps get on a daily, weekly and even a monthly basis need only look at dApp Radar, or State of the dApps for a full breakdown of just how much traffic they get.
From previous observation, the number of users can fluctuate, reaching anywhere up to over 200 users under the right circumstances, but even having an active user base above 0 seems to be enough to get you onto the top five.
“Design is the Killer App for Crypto”?
One of the trending articles that went into circulation on Coinbase was headlined ‘Why Design is the Killer App for Crypto' which stated:
“Blockchain today is often compared to the internet in the 1990s. When the internet first came about, you couldn’t have predicted that twenty years later people would be using it to share their houses and cars (thanks to Airbnb and Lyft). The builders of the web didn’t have to know what all the possibilities were — they were just a group of passionate people who believed that this technology was important and transformational to society, and they pulled together to work to make it a reality.”
in the article, Coinbase made reference to the evolution of highway road signs over time to become more friendly to a broadening demographic of drivers.
This isn't as obscure a reference as you'd think, dApps, along with other components are the first iterations of what we're coming to know as ‘web 3.0‘. To the average outsider, they look clunky, overly complicated and, as a result, unworkable compared to the tried and tested mainstream alternatives.
But once the design of dApps improve, which they already are, when looking at dApp-based games, the speed of the blockchains they run on will also increase, the more appealing they'll be to users and investors as a result.
Federico Ast, founder of the decentralized justice protocol, Kleros tells Bitcoin.com:
“New technologies are usually received with skepticism. It’s easy to dismiss a new technology when you compare its very first iteration with the established versions of previous technologies.”
Early Versions of Anything Suck, Just Look at GPS'
If there's a case to be made in defense of blockchain technology, as a whole, and dApps, in particular, it's that they've made some significant strides in terms of application and development since 2008.
With the introduction of the first Bitcoin wallets, there were no QR codes, no companies willing to take them off your hands except for one curious Papa Johns Restaurant (in the future), and no intuitive interfaces.
Think back to the first Mobile Phones or GPS devices, did you enjoy using them? No-one did except those that were already incredibly skilled with them and had the money to shell out for a several thousand dollar ‘latest' model.
But as they became more commonplace, more people wanted them, more people means more competitive prices and better UI over time.
Kleros, for example, with its first foray into the world of dApps, they developed ‘Doges on Trial,' which was a test case for their Justice protocol. Users would be invited to upload images of fake ‘Doges' and even cats, all with the intent of sneaking the images past a series of crowdsourced jurors.
Looking back on it, as a dApp, it seems messily pieced wholly and together frivolous when considering the funding that went to develop it. While it looked that way, it contributed to a crucial system, according to Ant.
“Of course the very first cars were slower and more expensive than horses. And sending the first email was more expensive than traditional mail,” notes Kleros’ Federico Ast. “But the performance of new technologies increases exponentially. What may start as a ‘silly experiment’ proposing users sort a Doge list (“Hey, any 5-year-old can do that!”) may be the first step to fundamentally rethinking arbitration from the ground up.”
We're sitting on the ten-year anniversary of the genesis block, marking just what kind of remarkable journey Bitcoin and, by extension, the world of blockchain has traveled down already. But it's very clear that, before there's widespread implementation of it within the strands of our lives, it will take more years and even more testing to find out what problems it can solve, and how it can truly make a mark on our lives.