The best indicator for the success within the sphere of technology is the number and quality of technologists who support it. In software, this means that the projects with the most and best developers will almost always win.
Blockchain development as a skill is rapidly gaining popularity. It has grown 6000% this past year and is now the fastest growing skill on popular freelancing websites, such as Upwork. But just how many of these developers are focused on Ethereum? ConsenSys gives us two unique insights into how disproportionately blockchain developers are focused on Ethereum. They estimate the “developer community” to be 250,000. While this number seems rather large, it comes with some supporting figures. Truffle has nearly 550,00 downloads, there are 14,000 repositories and 220,000 commits on Github concerning Ethereum, and MetaMask now has over 1 millions users. While there may or may not be a quarter million ethereum developers, we can use these statistics to validate another claim made by Andrew Keys of ConsenSys. He claims that Ethereum has “30 times more Devs than the next blockchain community.”
These overwhelming figures show how impressive the growth of the Ethereum development community is. It makes sense that, according to cryptocurrency researcher Kevin Rooke, 94 out of the top 100 blockchain projects were launched on the Ethereum network.
History will show that those with the most and best developers win, but we don’t need to go back in time too much. If Ethereum has the most and best developers, we could assume that Ethereum will prevail in the end. We can make this assumption by examining other tech giants.
Which companies are focusing on hiring the most developers? Examining a list of the top 10 companies hiring more engineers than anyone else, you’ll find companies like Oracle, Apple, IBM, Google, Intel, Facebook, and Amazon. These companies know the value of developer talent. We expect other tech giants will likely follow suit.
But the best way to learn how Ethereum will dominate the DApp market is to examine the current App market.
Lessons from The App market
Back in 2010, you could hardly make a case for Android app development being superior to iOS apps. The battle was one-sided as Apple was first to market. Just look at the number of developers there were for iOS vs Android back in 2010:
This has changed greatly over the past few years. iOS development is more exclusive and has more barriers to entry, whereas Android app development is a much simpler process. Keep in mind Apple had 4 times as many developers as Android. On the blockchain side of things, it is believed that Ethereum has 30 times more developers than the next blockchain.
Today, the number of app developers (in thousands) looks very different:
Android now has nearly double the developers Apple has. But how does this change the ecosystem? Consider how many new apps are released each year in the past 5 years:
As one would expect, as the gap in iOS and Apple developers continues to grow, so too does the number of applications released on each platform. As long as the developer gap for Ethereum continues to grow, so too will the number of DApp’s. But it’s not just the number of applications being developed. Android is cannibalizing Apple apps at a much higher rate than Apple is bringing on Android apps:
The best applications get copied across platforms (when possible). More apps get made when there are more developers. This makes it an easy case to suggest that Ethereum will have most of the future DApp’s made on its platform.
But some great ideas will happen outside of Ethereum. The fact that DApp’s are open sourced means that any brilliant idea that does get created outside of Ethereum, will likely be recreated on Ethereum by one of its many talented developers. Simply analyzing projects isn’t enough. The core asset of any software platform is its human capital.
But number of developers isn’t everything. Financial incentives matter as well. Android easily has a higher percentage of free apps, but what about upscale luxury apps like games? iOS has traditionally paid their developers more than android. In fact, in 2016 they paid about 50 billion to app developers. This means that there was a tendency for apps to appear in iOS first, though it is clear that developers are increasingly targeting android. You will find some of the more programmatically intensive applications in higher prevalence on iOS. In fact, the most popular iOS app category, by volume, is games (25%). This contrasts greatly with the most popular Android category (by penetration), which is tools (99.8%). Through financial incentives, Apple is trying to target the more intensive “luxury apps”.
This trend may also be true with DApps. There is a good possibility that there are strong financial incentives for developers to build brilliant things outside of Ethereum. Money is a great motivator. But when you are examining long-run sustainability, you have to prioritize the number of developers first. This is especially true on an open sourced platform.
But even if Apple is paying their developers more, where are more apps being downloaded?
In 2016, the total number of iOS app download was about 25 billion. In 2016, the total number of Android app downloads was about 90 billion. Consider how dramatic that is for a moment. In terms of app downloads, Android is now blowing Apple out of the water, and it seems the trend will continue. Not even Apple’s strong financial incentives can overcome the shear development power of Android.
The same can be said for Ethereum. Unless a platform comes along that seduces an even larger core developer base, we can expect Ethereum to dominate the Decentralized Application marketplace.
Ethereum has several developer tools that make it easier for developers to build successful DApps. Additionally, Ethereum’s programming language, Solidity, has already created a wealth of existing smart contracts that can be used as references by developers. Since its creation, Ethereum has been pushing out a lot of projects. The work put in by its developers laid the foundation for a snowball effect bringing more and more developers to the platform.
You’ve heard this maxim before when analyzing technology and trends: follow the developers. And today, it seems clear that the developers are choosing Ethereum.
Still wondering what technology needs to be successful? Just ask the former CEO of Microsoft.
Author: This piece was written by Mustafa Inamullah, Creative Director, MIMIR Blockchain Solutions.
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Ethereum Will Dominate the DApp Market Because of its Developers was originally published in Hacker Noon on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.