Coindesk yesterday published an article decrying the lack of users on Augur, the DApp prediction market. They concluded that it was due to liquidity and design issues.
The problem is that no-one is using DApps. Any DApps.
Augur is one of the most interesting projects around. Whilst the design isn’t perfect, and as with all DApps it desperately needs a mobile app, the truth is that it could have the greatest design of any app known to humanity and it would still have less than 100 users. Why? Because the infrastructure isn’t there to support it. Because there is no infrastructure, there is no community.
Expecting DApps to launch and have hundreds of thousands of users is ludicrous. Augur may be priced as if it should, but it was priced high because:
- It is one of the original DApps
- It is one of the flagship DApps on Ethereum, itself the smart contracts vanguard
- It is ambitious
Expected users and token usage at launch doesn’t factor into the price of REP, not if you’re in any way in touch with how other DApps have launched.
Cryptoasset prices may have soared in 2017, but the technology can only move so fast. There are so many things that need to happen to create a large and sustainable userbase for DApps.
Firstly, we need an easier way to onboard people who just want to use the DApp in question. It’s not a great user experience to have to go to Coinbase to buy your ETH, then transfer that ETH to your Ledger or MetaMask account, then login to that and then use Augur. This is time consuming and awkward. Plus, as Krug noted himself, you’re paying high fees. And it requires the use of a computer, something many people just don’t use at home anymore. Oh, and you take on the risk of ETH volatility so even if you win a bet you could end up significantly down.
Secondly, the networks remain slow and aren’t ready to cope with demand even if it comes. Scaling solutions are crucial, as we all know. Why are we so keen for people to begin using the network when we know it will immediately render it unusable? This isn’t a dead on arrival type scenario. Most of the developers now in the space only arrived in the last 24 months. They need time to build and implement the infrastructure which will bring users to DApps.
Thirdly, we just need to be patient. The tech hype cycle is well known. We are somewhere in between the peak of inflated expectations and trough of disillusionment right now in terms of price but in terms of the technology itself I’m not even sure that’s true. The benefits of the technology itself got lost in the price talk in 2017. Could many people explain why decentralisation is important? I doubt it. Most of the world don’t even know about it. Frankly I’d be surprised if more than 20% of the people who class themselves as involved in crypto could explain why the technology is promising or why decentralisation matters.
My point? We can’t expect to see users in large numbers yet.
This isn’t even comparable to the internet because we’re competing with the internet. Every aspect of the decentralised user experience has to match up with the internet, beginning from onboarding new users. How else can we expect to convert people to DApps otherwise?
We are currently nowhere near that standard. At this stage patience is required. Augur is an amazing DApp. It really is. That there are no users is of no discredit to the team. They’ve just built a house in an area without electricity, water, communications or roads.