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Tag: decentralized applications

Is Web3’s Culture and Technology Enough to Expand the Blockchain Market on Their Own?

The core blockchain sector should reevaluate whether they believe they can independently onboard the next millions or billions of consumers. 

I relate to a section from Gavin Wood’s Polkadot 2023 Roundup.

“…the failings of certain individuals who seem to think the messaging and marketability of Web3 can be successfully divorced from its technology and culture,” was Gavin’s explanation for the crypto winter.

Although I agree with the first paragraph about the “failings of certain individuals,” I don’t think the mismatch between Web3 culture and marketing messaging is to blame. 

Rather, there’s a mismatch between the go-to-market strategy of the Web3 culture and the realities of customer adoption. 

Web3’s technology and culture have been challenged in their own ways pertaining to their messaging and marketability. More than ten years into the birth of this industry, we still can’t point to a mainstream-class application with millions of daily or even weekly active users (not counting exchanges or wallets).

Web3 is reaching a wall in terms of user expansion because of subpar user experiences, as I’ve previously written, We Need Web2 User Experience To Get Us to Web3, Not Blockchain Protocols

There is too much attention on the infrastructure players, yet they aren’t the ones that will ultimately own the consumer experiences.  

Most L1 blockchain infrastructure teams are relatively small businesses (at the most, less than 250 in headcount). It is very difficult for them to wage multiple battles at once. First, they are fighting each other for mindshare and marketing messages to get attention. Second, they are continuously focused on herding people to develop and evolve their technologies. Thirdly, they must work very hard to draw in developers and users to reach significant adoption.

It’s difficult to execute all three parts well unless the surrounding ecosystem has expanded significantly to the point that, in the event of the central entity’s disappearance, the ecosystem as a whole would continue to advance with little to no harm. 

Few infrastructure protocols are as (organizationally) decentralized as the ethos they evangelize to be enabling. Except for Bitcoin, most Foundations (or Labs) organizations continue to act as the main locomotive that pulls the whole train forward. Perhaps Ethereum comes in a close second due to the ongoing self-effacing nature of the Ethereum Foundation, whose role has shrunk considerably in relative terms compared to what the ecosystem is delivering.

Since adoption is the one factor that matters in terms of success, let’s return to it.

So, how will the remaining millions (and billions) of users be drawn to crypto and the blockchain? 

Within the current landscape of Web3 apps, the mainstream user will be hard-pressed to get excited and take on current Web3 apps like duck to water because there is too much of a jump to get into crypto with both feet and expect to figure things out. 

Consequently, we shouldn’t be disparaging app efforts posing as Web2-first. When paired with a Web3 aftertaste, Web2 apps make a delicious appetizer. 

I’m excluding “users” that speculate on cryptocurrency prices because, for many of them, central exchanges will give them user-friendly capabilities.

Infrastructure developers currently dominate the blockchain industry, but to attract application-first developers, we need to increase the number of developer-friendly services available.

Web3 and Web2 need each other. Let’s admit it.

The Web3 culture and technology have given us an incredible vision. But they need help in realizing it. 

How Will Crypto Wallets Lead Us To The Wild World of Blockchain Apps? 

We’re a long way from the wallet becoming the next browser. But there’s more than one way to get there.

I wrote another article that was published on the week-end in Fortune, entitled The growth of Web3 depends on crypto wallets—and how we choose to use them.

The article discusses the question, Will the popularity of wallets lead users to a Web3 world, or will current web apps move more quickly in that direction by first incorporating built-in wallet functionality?

It’s a bit of a trick question because both paths will be valid, in my opinion.

Having more built-in wallets inside apps is inevitable, and that trend is going to increase. In these cases, the app itself is the main attraction, and the wallet takes a second-class position to it. In these cases, there is tight integration between the app and wallet experiences.

Then what happens when you own a variety of cryptocurrencies? You will need a multi-currency wallet to hold them. That’s where the standalone wallet comes in. In that standalone category, there is more than just holding currency. These wallets also function as a bridge to “decentralized apps”, ones that use the wallet as a user login or for authentication and pseudo-identity purposes, such as for Decentralized Finance.

Today, we have an abundance of choices in standalone wallets, while there is a shortage of useful apps that use the built-in wallet in a significant and essential way.

With that backdrop as a set-up, I invite you to click on the link and read (no paywall) the full article, The growth of Web3 depends on crypto wallets—and how we choose to use them.

P.S. The image above was generated by starryai with the prompt “A bridge depicted by cryptocurrency wallets.” I was pleasantly surprised that it also included the hamburger menu alluding to apps, although I didn’t give it that directive.

Understanding Semi-private Blockchain Applications

 public-privateI believe that the semi-private blockchain application segment will be the upcoming hot flavor in the blockchain world of software applications.

For background, one of the primary differences between public and private blockchains is that public blockchains typically have a generic purpose and are generally cheaper to use, whereas private blockchains have a more specific usage intent, and they are more expensive to set-up because their operating details are borne by fewer stakeholders. Blockchain Applications can use either public or private blockchains infrastructure, and sometimes they will use both.

Among these choices of implementations, lies a nuance: the semi-private blockchain application.

In contrast to public chain applications where anyone can participate, and private chain applications (consortium or not) where participants are tightly managed, semi-private chain-based applications are run by a single company who grants access to any user who qualifies, and they typically target business-to-business users.

Semi-private blockchain applications will be similar to private Web applications in terms of how they are managed. As long as users qualify according to pre-established criteria, credentials or profile, they are given access. There should not be significant discrimination for access. And in some cases, access might be completely open. For example, when we check the tracking status of a package on a carrier website (FedEx, UPS or other), we don’t need to identify ourselves, but we just enter the tracking number. In the near future, companies will provide “trust-related services” that consumers can use to check a particular status or update.

Here’s a quick table depicting these variations.

Semi-private blockchain applications

Examples of semi-private blockchain applications might resemble the ones that we hear government entities are planning to launch, such as record-keeping, land titles, public records, etc. They could also come from any company who launches a blockchain application to serve their business. Just to name a couple of examples in this category,-  the Chicago Cook County property title transfer application, or the Thomson Reuters identity tools application.

We might see a greater variety of blockchain applications from this segment potentially faster than from the private consortium flavors, for a few reasons:

  • Launching them most closely resembles how a company runs a website.
  • The business case is typically well thought out ahead of the implementation, and it supports an existing business, so the risks of failure are low.
  • Companies can more easily integrate blockchain features into their own back-end and meld it with a familiar Web interface. They control all of that directly.

I’m bullish on the semi-private flavor of blockchain applications for large companies. Possibly, semi-private blockchains might become the preferred way to introduce applications that have a blockchain component behind the scenes.

With the proliferation of public, private, semi-private, special purpose, and other types of blockchains, a world of millions of blockchains will be achievable.

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