The perks of decentralization are well-known – no single entity to control the process, reduced costs, and higher security due to the distribution of nodes. However, is it enough to attract the average user to blockchain-based platforms? Statistics prove that the answer is no, unfortunately. Most people simply do not care about the benefits of decentralization, but rather about how useful and user-friendly the products are – regardless whether they are built on the blockchain or not. Still, blockchain projects continue to launch empty platforms with no particular application. So how do you attract users and make the blockchain more widespread? The possible answer is to be your own early adopter and create original content!
The absolute majority of blockchain projects die fast
Ever wonder how many of blockchain companies manage to stay alive and active after several years? A recent study conducted by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology found that for over 80,000 blockchain-based projects launched globally, only 8% are still in active operation. The average lifespan for such projects is just a bit over one year (1.22 years).
The possible reason for this is low demand: the data on the number of users shows that blockchain projects lack user adoption. Daily Active Users (DAU) discloses that the number of users of the most popular applications on Ethereum is less than 1,000. Compare that to Facebook, for example, which has about 1.5 billion users visiting it every day!
Another example is Steemit, a decentralized social network, that announced it had surpassed 1 million users in May 2018. That’s definitely a milestone, but to put this in perspective Medium has 60 million readers monthly.
What stops the blockchain from mass adoption? Expert opinions
Dr. Michael J. Garbade, the founder and CEO of Education Ecosystem and serial entrepreneur, lists the nine obstacles to blockchain adoption – among them are people’s resistance to change and lack of primary application.
His opinion is supported by other industry experts, such as Ivan Vankov, principal blockchain architect at Cognition Foundry. “Every one try to revolutionize something with blockchain. Mass media and social expectations push you to this behavior, always to look for the maximum, for the extreme, for unique and different, but the reality is very different. People do not like revolutions, especially if they are involved in it. People will do everything that they can do so tomorrow to be the same as yesterday. Same apply for business. Do not try to revolutionize, try to evolve. ”
This statement is proven by recent history: researchers started using TCP/IP, the technology that makes it possible to send emails to each other, in 1972. A number of companies were exploring the opportunities of TCP/IP during the 1980s, but the solution didn’t evolve until the mid 1990s. For the blockchain, the process is likely to be similar – and the projects will have to adjust to their customers so that they get used to the new technology.
As James Martin Duffy, co-founder at Loom Network, says, “[There is a] lack of ‘killer dApps’ – applications that are good enough to incentivize millions of users to really want to use them.” James explains, “They might conceptually understand why decentralized apps are better. But simply saying, ‘It’s Facebook — but decentralized!’ doesn’t seem to be a strong enough value proposition to get people to jump ship from a centralized Facebook that, despite its many shortcomings, more or less works just fine. For the majority of mainstream users, the promise of decentralization, in itself, is not enough.”
The question remains: how do you make average users interested in blockchain projects? One of the possible solutions is providing original content to the users so that they become interested in it – and addicted to it.
Be your own early adopter – create original content
The recent research by IHS Markit shows that Netflix produced 1,257 hours of original content in 2017 – 25% more than planned! This year, the company is going to spend $8 billion on it (up from $6 billion last year). Amazon Prime, Netflix’s competitor, is far behind with only 285 hours in 2017 – however, 40% of them was original first-run international content. For both companies, the number of original hours produced annually was steadily increasing during the last five years – and so was the number of subscribers, by the way.
As Matt Ward, angel investor, startup advisor, and entrepreneur, explains, “We are a species evolved in an era of scarcity. When granted abundance, most simply increase their expectations of quality and originality — hence Netflix… Any CEO worth their salt realizes self-sufficiency trumps all else, thus Netflix started creating original content (well after their innovation with streaming video) to cut out the producers/royalties. While incredibly expensive in the short term, this strategy would (and will) pay huge dividends in the long run.”
Video-on-demand companies are not the only ones – other tech companies are also following the same strategy. A very representative example of this is Medium – although everyone can create a blog on the website, the company also hires authors to write original publications. Another one is Linkedin – the Microsoft-owned company started out as a social network for professionals 15 years ago, but it has since evolved into a publishing platform with over 50 professional journalists working on interesting content for readers. LinkedIn’s original content includes the morning digest of business, video interviews with corporate heavyweights, and a podcast about people’s lives at work.
Some of the success stories are completely unexpected. River Pools and Spas, a company which manufactures and installs inground fiberglass pools, suffered from a lack of clients in 2008 because of the financial crisis. The partner of the company started to create its own content in the blog to answer the most popular question he heard from customers – how much does a fiberglass pool cost. From one post, the company was able to generate over $3 million in revenue.
Numerous market players are creating original content to attract a new audience and differentiate themselves from the growing number of competitors. Simon Owens, tech writer, explains, “Tech platforms will sometimes use what is called a ‘mullet strategy’ (business in the front, party in the back) by commissioning high quality content to attract readers with the hope that some of those readers will stick around to launch and run their own user accounts on the platform.“ And if it works for most tech companies like Netflix, Amazon, Facebook, Medium, and Linkedin then why wouldn’t it work for the blockchain?
Blockchain-based platforms are joining the race with original content
Blockchain projects from different industries are already realizing the potential benefits of original content, and they are working on producing their own videos, articles, podcasts, and courses. Some good examples of this are listed below.
- BOLT is creating an open entertainment economy and provides cheap mobile video content to the emerging markets constrained by bandwidth. The company has a wide ecosystem of partners, the latest one being with the International Cricket Council (ICC) granting them the transmission rights of the 2019 Cricket World Cup! However, they have also initiated “BOLT Originals”, an in-house content development program. BOLT’s original content is focused on communicating the values of the company and giving visibility to their users and people around the world. Dedicated teams are working on “BOLT Originals” to deliver content on regular basis. Their most recent announcement includes “BOLT Africa”, a program where East-African Ambassadors, called “BOLT Marafiki” (friends), will be producing original East-African content on the BOLT platform. And this is just the first one in a new series of the BOLT Ambassadors Program that aims to establish the BOLT brand in different areas around the globe while encouraging more content creators to use the platform (from contributing with a news highlight to subtitling a music video.) They are all welcome to be part of the BOLT ecosystem, thus enabling further adoption.
- SingularDTV, a blockchain entertainment studio, empowers artists with applications to manage and create projects from development to distribution. It’s also creating original content – the company says that the film called “Trust Machine” will be the first documentary on the platform. The art piece will be followed by the feature narrative “The Happy Worker”, directed by Duwayne Dunham and produced by David Lynch.
- Teachur.co is a blockchain-based platform that aims to make education more accessible to everyone and offers users courses on a variety of subjects, allowing them to get a college degree. The founders hold PhD and MsC degrees and have a deep understanding of the topic and experience of designing courses, thus producing high-quality content.
- Civic, the project that offers blockchain-powered decentralized authentication solutions, has chosen a different path to attract users to its platform. Prior to launching their ICO, Civic required users willing to participate in ICO to download and use the app. The company managed to raise $33 million and millions of early adopters with this strategy.
It’s pretty obvious that blockchain adoption is still very much at an early stage. There are less than 28 million blockchain wallets active now, and most of them are used for trading purposes rather than for the actual usage of blockchain products. Less than 10,000 users in total are interacting with Ethereum dApps daily, which is nothing compared to the millions of users visiting Facebook every day or the 500 million professionals registered at Linkedin.
The truth is, people are reluctant to change and they would rather prefer simple centralized apps to decentralized ones despite all the potential benefits. In case blockchain projects continue to launch empty platforms, waiting for users to fill the space, the 92% failure rate of blockchain startups is unlikely to decrease. However, if companies start to create their own content, following the strategy of Netflix, Medium, Facebook, and others for example, the situation may change – and mass blockchain adoption may turn into a reality.
Thanks to the Howtotoken Agency experts for the information and comments provided for this topic.