There is an abundance of information that we can learn from Tech history which is littered with the carcasses of first movers that have been obliterated by the next generation’s learnings and massively (occasionally even fundamentally) improving on the first-mover technology. This shows its nothing new and those who are building and supporting these new generation technologies should not be apologetic about the exciting breakthroughs they are achieving. If the Blockchain and Crypto industry does not have the emotional and psychological fortitude to celebrate these successes, then it is seriously in danger of becoming a quagmire of self-destructive sabotage benefiting no-one in the long-term.
The following historical and current examples illustrate this inevitability of first movers/network effect dominance being completely over-run whenever there is fundamental innovations that can demonstrate they are superior substitutes to the products and services of the first mover and their advantaged network effects:
It is estimated that the current market price of Gold is around US$8 Trillion. This is, however, minuscule compared to the Tens of Trillions of dollars of the combined market valuation of industries and products that use Gold as their key input, e.g., Jewelry, Computers, Telecommunications, Biotech, Phones, motor vehicles and the list goes on.
The Gold based products are simply next generation applications of the base metal. If it has become standard Crypto Industry reference to assert that Bitcoin is the equivalent of Gold in the Crypto space, so, unless there is substantial increase in the use of Bitcoin through innovative new ways, it is inevitable that new technologies and industries that have used Bitcoin architecture as their starting point, will vastly exceed Bitcoin’s use cases, marketcap and users….what’s the big deal?..that is innovative capitalism at its best!
Tesla marketcap overtook General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler combined
Who would have thought even 10years ago, that a totally electric car, that had not emerged from an existing dominant car manufacturer, would achieve what Tesla has. What’s even more amazing is that it was started by a guy who had no background in car manufacturing. GM and Ford berated Elon Musk’s tenacious application of scientific philosophy and doing the required grueling work. The rest is history as Tesla is currently valued around $186Billion and GM $41Billion, Ford $27Billion and Chrysler $13Billion.
Microsoft marketcap overtook IBM in Personal Computers
When IBM introduced the PC its Senior Management were reported to deride its usefulness to consumers. They were caught up in the fallacy network effects and Mainframe dominance of which they were number one globally. So, when some insignificant enthusiasts from a small fry company called Microsoft wanted the design specs, they just gave it away. They fundamentally redesigned it for usability and introduce graphical user interfaces. The rest is history. There are plenty of books, articles and even a movie on that.
Bill Gates et al were immersed in consumer enthusiasm about computers and their novel functionality both for leisure and commerce because they were actively engaged with the everyday consumers who were hungry for the new era of tech gadgets. Now Microsoft is $1.47Trillion, while IBM is $112Billion
Apple marketcap overtook Microsoft in Desktops, Phones, Music
Microsoft fell into the IBM trap when they dominated the PC market and the Office suite. But Steve Jobs et al knew that consumers were also willing to part with their money, even at a premium, if they had stability, security and ease-of-use for any application user-journey. Microsoft was more interested in increased functionality as a trade-off, falsely believing that Consumers’ on-going frustrations with application crashes, and frequent upgrades were less important, than all the new fun functionality. Now Microsoft is $1.47Trillion, while Apple is $1.53Trillion
Apple overtook Nokia with the iPhone in mobile telephony
Nokia had it all, by a vast margin against its nearest rivals. And as often happens when companies have very dominant market share, management reckon they can always out-spend in marketing or out-invest any small fry competitor. Or simply buy the company.
Apple didn’t give them that option, but more importantly, again Steve Jobs et al, recognised that there is nothing more important than a Consumer’s awesome experience with any gadget’s functionality. Now Apple is $1.53Trillion, while Nokia is $22Billion
Google overtook Netscape & Yahoo.com in Search Engines
Now Google is $990Billion, while Yahoo is $32Billion and Netscape is just a memory from the dotcom boom
Andoid Platforms overtook Microsoft and Apple
Android 72.6%, iOS 26.72%, Windows 0.03%, Others 5.2% (https://gs.statcounter.com/os-market-share/mobile/worldwide)
Facebook overtook MySpace in community networking
Now Facebook is $677Billion, while MySpace like Netscape is just a memory from the dotcom.
The two factors why decoupling of Cardano from Bitcoin is inevitable
• Consumers and Investors are looking for solutions and/or profitable options to their everyday, medium and long-term problems and/or investments. If the next generation technology has the answers, they will pay-up and dump the older one, it doesn’t matter how much the advocates of the old technology rubbish the new…Customer is still King.
• A fundamentally new technology that re-invents an existing product’s use case or introduces entirely new products which not only consumes the current use cases but transforms them into the new “WOW!” factor, will lead to that technology effortlessly leapfrogging the dominance of the existing market leader and/or first mover in that sector. Even the network effects will rapidly melt away and coalesce around the new tech.
Implications for Bitcoin and Ethereum
Bitcoin and Ethereum maximalists must be very wary of the presumption of network effects and first-mover advantages as shown in the examples above. In particular, Cardano’s complete overhaul of the fundamental foundations of both Bitcoin and Ethereum concepts and designs to create more superior products and infrastructure covering all key existing Ethereum offerings and more. This presents Ethereum with a serious risk of losing not only its first-mover advantages, network effects but also base of developers, given that Cardano also shrewdly offering an attractive suite of tools for easy transfer to the superior Cardano development platform, plus a sweetener of financial rewards for contributing to the development platform.
At the heart of the current growth pangs of the Blockchain industry is the need to pursue the basic science to set the baseline of protocols, and engineering architectures stacks that will guide the development application languages and products into the future. From Tech history, we know that this battle has had to be fought to establish the stability and flexibility in the Internet as we know it today leading to the multi-trillion-dollar industries globally. So, for the Blockchain industry, whichever Project achieves this breakthrough will over-run all existing first-movers, and not only enjoy first-mover advantages but, will become industry visionary and leader guiding both technical, political, investment and retail sectors.
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