As interest in blockchain technology continues to rise, many in the crypto sphere debate how to push rapid adoption of the technology into mainstream society.
The strongest push seems to be behind the creation of a “killer app” to drive people to the platform in the way that Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter do for social media, Uber does with ride-sharing, and MS Word does for word processing.
But what would the killer app for blockchain look like and is it essential for blockchain technology to succeed?
What is a Killer App?
The concept of the killer app or killer application has been around for a while. In short, it’s a specific application that draws users to a platform. Video game consoles do this all the time with exclusives. God of War is an example of a Playstation exclusive. These video games force people who want to play them to buy their platform, increasing revenue and interest at the same time.
Many hope that blockchain will introduce a killer app that will further instill interest in the technology and stimulate a full-blown migration towards adapting blockchain on a massive scale.
What Are the Benefits of a Killer App?
The main benefit of a killer application is to stimulate more interest in the technology. The end of 2017 saw a significant boom with cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, expanding the overall crypto community. That interest brought additional market value along with a more global awareness in mainstream communities about blockchain tech, mainly cryptocurrencies. This value grew because an increasingly larger community understood the value this technology offers.
Ethereum and Bitcoin’s market caps are great examples of this. These two coins are the most trusted cryptos on the market. They also offer a utility value to the community. But many see that value as only beginning to grow. Depending on who you ask, some people believe that the only way that these cryptos will reach their full potential and market value is through a killer application. And this has sparked a debate on what that killer app would look like and whether or not it has already arrived.
Does Blockchain Already Have a Killer App?
Figuring out whether or not blockchain has already created or is in the process of creating a killer app since its inception nine years ago is complicated. Many believe that blockchain already has not one, but several killer apps available to users.
Answers range from its use as a store of value or a digital gold, its ability to complete both micro and macro payments, and its ability to raise funds (ICOs for instance). These use cases illustrate blockchain’s application value.
Being able to complete these types of tasks while also functioning as a means of payment or a store of value further demonstrates this technology’s ability to fill the demands of society. The goal is that as more and more people see how these types of interactions benefit society, they will line up behind blockchain to use this tech to make their lives easier.
This is where you see some of the most significant use cases for blockchain technology. In areas like supply chain management, blockchain can vastly improve how businesses operate while cutting costs. This attracts more investors who want to see this technology integrated into their companies as doing so promises a higher ROI.
But these are all use cases and not necessary applications for blockchain. In fact, when you ask most people about killer apps on the blockchain, you’ll see most answers highlight what the technology does rather than a specific application that utilizes the technology and draws people onto one particular platform.
The closest thing that we’ve seen to something like a traditional killer app is crypto kitties, and while it was certainly entertaining for many, it did more to illustrate current flaws in Ethereum rather than stimulate hype for the everyday person.
Programmers Disagree That a Killer App Is Necessary
On the other side, many like Vitalik Buterin believe that a killer app is not necessary or even possible with blockchain technology. He argues that blockchain is better suited to improve and modernize existing structures in place rather than follow the traditional path of creating a high-interest application to garner increasing support from the public.
It’s similar to comparing at the incandescent light bulb versus LED light bulbs. The LED bulb didn’t invent light or electricity; it improved on a structure that was already in place. Some people still use older light bulbs even though LEDs last longer and are more energy efficient, saving buyers money in the long run. This seems a more likely scenario with blockchain technology.
Blockchain is here to benefit people, but because of its complexity and steep initial learning curve, most people don’t have time to fully understand it. The “killer app” is rather businesses seeing its potential benefit and investing in platforms that can help them transition to a more efficient decentralized model.
Is A Killer App Necessary for Blockchain’s Success?
We’ve already seen a significant push towards the adaptation of blockchain technology without anything remotely close to a killer apps. Blockchain technology boasts the ability to enhance businesses by saving them money, improving their efficiency, and making them more secure. And it’s not like businesses are shying away from the tech. In fact, many businesses who do not already have an R&D team for blockchain are seen as lagging behind the times. Patience is the only necessary element needed now.
For those still clinging to the idea of a killer app, they have to take a look at the very structure of blockchain to see the difficulty in this ever coming true: it is decentralized in nature. Killer apps fit the centralized model of business because their main focus is to draw in users away from competitors. But because blockchain is being applied ubiquitously to various avenues of business and tech, there’s no one physical place to pull people towards.
If you’re looking for a killer app in the future, then your best bet is to find an application or company that utilizes blockchain in its foundation subtly to give it an advantage over competitors. Those companies will outperform their competitors. If your expectations are different, you’re be stuck looking for the next crypto kitties instead.