Infrastructure for a dApp ecosystem
by James Ahn
To understand the current status of dApps, I have played several of them to gauge their quality, the associated token economics, and user experiences.
Things have clearly improved in many aspects, but when compared to mobile apps and web services current dApps do not suffice to attract users. This is my honest opinion.
I will skip conventional narratives on dApp’s user experiences. It is a well-known story and we are all well aware of it.
dApps play a significant role in a blockchain ecosystem because dApps are the real users of blockchain technology, as blockchain technology itself is a sort of infrastructure, not a service directly for users.
So blockchain’s mass adoption could be achieved by the emergence of so-called killer dApps.
Yes everyone in the blockchain world has been waiting for the killer dApps.
But the reality is bitter. when I talk to several dApp developers, they express their concerns in many areas such as technology, token economy design, user interface and so on.
The biggest concern shared by all dApp developers is not a technical problem but related to revenue generation, the number of dApp users.
As of 2019–05–23, 3140 dApps have 225,074 DAU in total. It means that 71 DAU per 1 dApp. This is an extremely small number of DAU, It seems to be almost impossible to make money.
Consequently, dApp developers are not very serious about dApp development and are not investing significant resources.
This situation triggers a vicious circle.
- Since there are limited numbers of dApp users, dApp developers apply fewer resources in development, so the quality of dApps is not impressive.
- Since there aren’t any compelling dApps, dApp users do not use dApps.
The key to building a healthy circle is to give priority to dApp developers, not dApp users, because dApp users come into play if/when there are good dApps on the market.
From a dApp developer’s viewpoint, there are many things to be developed to provide an experience similar to those such as Apple’s app store: user identity, payment, and transaction handling. In short, dApp developers are currently obliged to invest resources beyond just building a dApp.
It does not, however, sound reasonable to demand sacrifice from dApp developers to build a healthy ecosystem.
There must be a dApp store to remove the dApp developer’s burden and let them indeed focus on the dApps and leave the remaining parts to the infrastructure.
Then dApp development will be accelerated and they can utilize their resources efficiently.
Investing money for dApp development is certainly helpful but a dApp store which would provide identity and payment functions is key and would be very valuable.
Blockchain platform providers need to consider providing such an infrastructure to facilitate the building of a dApp ecosystem.
If so, we would likely dramatically shorten the time needed to see killer dApps.