Decentralized applications (dApps) have shown huge potential to solve a range of problems. In fact, there are currently 1,578 known dApps on the most popular platforms: Ethereum, EOS, and Tron. However, while these dApps are growing in number, most have still failed to reach a wide audience. Despite having comparative advantages over centralized applications, only around 15 dApps built on those three popular blockchains reach more than 1000 users per day.
dApps are built on Blockchain-as-a-Service platforms. These applications are open-source and safer than traditional apps. They use crypto tokens for a wide range of functions, including profile registration, payments, and rewarding users.
The quest for mass adoption of dApps
Even though there is a total of 100,000 daily dApp users across these three platforms, most mainstream users of centralized applications remain out of reach. After all, users don’t typically care about new underlying technologies if they make their lives more complicated.
It’s tiring to learn about private keys, open dozens of different wallets, or understand how to use seed generators safely. Users have even less of an incentive if they have to pay to get information recorded on the blockchain, especially if they only want to perform a simple action that doesn’t involve transferring money.
As Victor Yalovoy calculated in August, if you were to have a dApp with 1,000 monthly users, and if, let’s say, each person used it every second day by making six transactions on it, that would mean 1,080,000 transactions per year on that dApp. The cost of deploying and running such a dApp on Ethereum would be $32,400 per year, while on EOS it would cost $55,000. However, in the case of EOS, Yalovoy says:
You will be able to unstake your coins and resell them. Unfortunately, it is impossible to say what would be the resell value after one year.
Apart from the high costs, there are other issues that are currently impeding mass adoption. User experience is an important factor. For the average user to switch to a dApp, it must be as user-friendly as a centralized app.
Ethereum is the most popular platform for creating dApps, and most existing dApps run on the Ethereum blockchain. In terms of usage, the game My Crypto Heroes – as well as decentralized exchanges IDEX and ForkDelta – stand out. However, no Ethereum-based dApp currently reaches 1,000 users per day.
Unlike TRON and EOS, where gambling dApps dominate, Ethereum is popular among “collectibles” games. This is because Ethereum has developed standards that allow gamers to transfer and modify collectibles on their own, even outside of the game they purchased them in.
Thanks to the new standard ERC-1155, users can send any number of items to one or multiple recipients in a single transaction. This reduces gas and congestion on the Ethereum transaction pool. Users may create thousands of different types of items for their game, and each unit may have a unique index or be fully fungible with the others. These are significant improvements that could attract new users.
However, scalability remains an issue. When the popularity of CryptoKitties reached its peak last December 2017, the Ethereum network became congested and couldn’t process transactions fast enough. When the euphoria ceased, the number of daily users dropped by 98 percent, from 14,000 to around 300 today. It was a good stress-test for the network.
While waiting for Sharding to scale the network, Ethereum’s community is focusing on those dApps that seem to have the most promise, such as decentralized exchanges, web3, securitization, and customer loyalty and benefit programs.
Ethereum has attracted the most developers thanks to its simplicity in coding. However, due to the scalability issue, it is facing increasing competition from other projects like TRON and EOS.
Gambling apps and games are a good test of platforms’ scalability and reliability. They also reveal common bugs in design patterns.
EOS enables a large number of transactions, all without fees. However, the cost of establishing new accounts on EOS has risen from $1 to $4. dApp developers need to pay for RAM or storage for each account. This is effectively a form of gas or a transaction fee. So, dApp developers need to pay in order to onboard users, and they might pass that cost on to users. It remains to be seen how this cost may influence future business developments.
According to SVIR research, gambling dApps were the only type to grow over the study’s two-month duration. Indeed, about 60 percent of all EOS dApps are designed for gambling. EOSBet, the oldest EOS gambling dApp, has received a gaming license from one of the world’s oldest established gaming regulators, Curaçao eGaming, while DICE has the highest volume.
PRA Candybox for the distribution of EOS tokens has the most users at the moment. Its 7,750 daily users can claim tokens every four hours.
The most popular EOS dApps have more users than either of the other two platforms. In total, 14 EOS dApps have more than 1,000 users per day, and five have more than 2,000 users per day.
TRON is another young platform that is slowly gaining momentum. Like the other platforms, its most successful dApps are also related to gambling. TRONDice has the most users, 4,304, but TRONBet’s users seem to be playing more, with a volume of 370 million TRX.
Other TRON dApps have fewer than 1,000 users per day. However, even with these numbers, TRON’s top dApps have recently surpassed Ethereum’s in usage.
Justin Sun, the founder of TRON, wrote on Twitter that Ethereum cannot keep up:
Ethereum and @ConsenSys are slowly imploding. The 60% layoff and 90% price drop is just the beginning. That’s what happens when u can’t keep up with DApps & no funding! Developers leaving & project shutdown will be next. Don’t go down with the ship! #TRON #ETH @VitalikButerin
— Justin Sun (@justinsuntron) December 23, 2018
However, even though EOS and TRON are strong in the gambling sector, they still need to prove themselves in those areas where Ethereum has a competitive advantage. Notably, Ethereum is a battle-proof network and is less centralized than EOS and TRON.
What can we expect?
No matter what the first truly successful dApp turns out to be, some things, such as scalability, are a must for mass adoption. Storage and transaction fees on these blockchains should be as cheap as possible for dApp developers and users. And, of course, user-friendliness is vital.
Whichever dApp ticks all these boxes could become the leader in the decentralized app revolution.