As early investors in Ethereum (ETH), it is important to consider the future of the Ethereum network beyond the price of ETH. At this moment in time, the price of ETH is purely a function of speculation. In the absence of true fundamentals, price is completely swayed by investor emotion. This explains the monstrous moves up and down in ETH.
So what gets us beyond speculation and into an environment where true user driven demand for ETH drives price?
To answer that question we have to remember how previous disruptive technologies went mainstream. We need to remember the internet era’s Netscape Moment.
On August 9th 1995 Netscape Communications Corporation “went public” on the Nasdaq stock exchange, selling 5 million shares at $28 per share. The Netscape initial public offering (IPO) marked the beginning of the “Dot Com Boom” in stocks that lasted until the year 2000. The era is remembered as a time when internet stock prices surged to astronomical levels as mainstream investors bought anything and everything “dot com”.
Netscape’s flagship product, Netscape Navigator, was the first world wide web browser that didn’t require a computer science degree to use. Despite having been around for many years, the internet was still something that most people had never “seen”. Netscape had developed a browser that allowed the average person, for the first time, to “see” the internet. Just type in an address and the world was at your finger tips.
Seeing was believing.
Netscape had illuminated the world wide web. Adoption soared because user experience (UX) had finally improved to a point where average people could easily browse via Navigator. This adoption translated into mainstream investment.
As websites sprung up, investors could peruse the site and get a feel for the product. If the product was compelling, say an online book seller, and the investor thought there was a bright future then an investment decision came easily.
My point being… no longer was the world wide web “coming” it was “here” and an investor needed to have a portfolio allocation or risk missing the opportunity of a lifetime.
The Ethereum network offers a profound improvement over current internet functionality. Decentralized Applications (DApps) offer tremendous capabilities beyond those that the internet as we know it can support. From decentralized information storage (Storj) to the ability to sell idle computing power (Golem), the list of exciting projects seems to know no bounds. Yet, only a small number of potential users currently know about these coming killer apps. The rest of the populace needs to “see” in order to believe and therefore adopt.
Ethereum needs a Netscape Moment.
Before focusing on a browser to improve UX on the Ethereum network, there needs to be something there worth browsing.
Currently there are thousands of developers working on a myriad of DApps destined for the Ethereum network… and they all have the same problem. Ethereum doesn’t yet possess the scalability necessary to support their DApps. In short, Ethereum is too slow (cannot validate transactions fast enough).
The Ethereum community is working vigorously to improve scalability. Technological initiatives to improve scalability include Sharding, Raiden, and Plasma. Google those on your own if you are inclined to further research. Generally, these initiatives are developing on-chain and off-chain methods to improve transaction validation speed.
Once the scalability problem is solved, projects like Status, MetaMask, and Parity amongst others, all working to build out the browser UX, will have something for their users to see when browsing the Ethereum network. That said, these projects have a long way to go themselves to improve the ease of use necessary for mainstream adoption.
Both scalability and improved user experience (i.e. a browser) must be in place before Ethereum can experience its Netscape Moment. The Netscape Moment brings mass adoption. The mass adoption brings mainstream investors. Mainstream investors tend to flood in and make early stage investors (like us) wealthy.