I have always been opposed to seeing Ethereum being pitched as a competitor to Bitcoin.
Not because I am a Bitcoin maximalist, but because the two are so fundamentally different in scope no comparison is possible.
Ethereum is not aiming to change world finance, it is offering a platform for applications. Moreover, Ethereum as a project has much more in common with a company offering a product than Bitcoin, which operates as a group that is developing a protocol.
I think that the Bitcoin maximalism position is possible on that basis (one protocol will win) while still being able to look at smart contract platforms as companies.
I look at Ethereum as a company, and the world of companies is one that requires vigorous competition. Without that competition, a company becomes complacent and won’t innovate; why would they?
Yet this was exactly the kind of position Ethereum has been in for years: it dominated the smart contract platform niche so much it was the default choice, even though there is plenty of competition out there that might be a much better fit.
No one in their right mind would say that Ethereum has gotten it all right. That would be impossible at this stage of development anyway. So why was it the default player?
The answer, in my opinion, is a combination of laziness and ignorance.
With its battle chest, Ethereum could dominate the marketing battle and its historical wide base of developers also made it an easy first choice.
Ethereum as a token platform is an insult
The above makes it all the more insulting that smart contract platforms have been degraded to something as narrow as “issuing tokens”. For a platform that started as a promise for so much more, it’s just sad to be a vehicle for a very small use case.
And that is coming to haunt it now: tokens that represent value need to be cashed out eventually (if you don’t, you are really playing a stupidly risky game with your investors’ money!). And that sell-off seems to be in the works now.
Nothing weird is happening: this is the natural consequence of what Ethereum is being used for now.
Finally, a real competitive market for platforms
And it’s about time. If smart contract platforms have anything of value to offer, they need to truly compete. That means a playing field where there is a chance to get to pole position, not just “honorable second place”.
And that is, in my opinion, what is happening now. Ethereum is going to the place where is belongs: in competition with all the other platforms that offer similar products.
May the best one (in its niche) win.
But suffice to say: Ethereum can no longer be complacent (and never should have been) .
Also published on Medium.