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Hackernoon logoThe Current Market State of Blockchain-Based Consumer Products by@ks.shilov

The Current Market State of Blockchain-Based Consumer Products

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@ks.shilovKirill

Blockchain enthusiast developer and writer. My telegram: ksshilov

When discussing blockchain technology with people outside of the industry, one question seems to always come up: Why do we need blockchains? This question, when not answered correctly, can turn interested people away from blockchains and often leaving them to think that blockchains don’t really add anything new to the world.

In reality, blockchain technology is finally starting to come into its stride, with many applications finally being realized throughout many different industries.

Blockchains don’t always solve an old problem in a new way, but they often solve an old problem in a better way. Because of the innate technology that forms blockchains, problems solved with this unique way of creating and managing databases are inherently more secure, cheaper to operate, and far more transparent than their traditional counterparts. This article will give you an answer to why we need blockchains, and it will lay out a possible path that the future of this decentralized technology may take.

The average user summed up

It is no secret that the 21st century has brought us huge data leaks, personal information abuse, and all-around data insecurity. Everything from the Cambridge Analytica leaks to the Equifax Data Breach, to that time 87 gigabytes of emails and passwords were dumped online — humans seem inherently awful at managing data online. Blockchains, when combined with other technologies and services, can help prevent some of these major leaks and breaches because data will no longer be stored in one place.

To truly understand how blockchain will help the average user, we first have to look at what types of services and platforms the average user uses in the modern era. For example, it is fair to say that the average person uses:

Believe it or not, there are blockchain companies trying to replace every item on that list. The important part is that these products either become decentralized themselves or are replaced by a decentralized alternative. Companies have shown time and time again that they can’t be trusted with data, and users should benefit more from their data being sold and used by advertising agencies.

The average user, decentralized

When the great ICO boom of 2017 swept through the blockchain market, hundreds upon hundreds of companies seemed to form and shut down overnight. However, some good came of this exceptional time of investment: investors learned how to spot quality companies with genuinely great ideas. Some companies formed through ICOs are still around, and others have raised capital in the meantime to take on some of the key industries everyday consumers use. Take for example:

  • Antube.tv - A Youtube-esque alternative that puts creators in control of monetizing their content and revenue streams
  • Brave.com - A Chrome-esque browser that rewards users for interacting with advertisements
  • Alfa.io - A patented platform where users can transact using Time as a currency.
  • MyCryptoHeroes.net - An RPG game built on the Ethereum blockchain that gives users complete control over their items, rewards, and other assets
  • Openbazaar.org - A free online marketplace with no platform fees and no restrictions
  • Steemit.com - A Reddit-esque writing platform built on a blockchain, where users reward quality posts with cryptocurrencies
  • Storj.io - Decentralized storage options for those that want the cloud without having to trust a specific company

A common theme between the majority of these companies is that they allow the user to control their data without interference or escrow. Everything that a user posts through Alfa is theirs forever and an entire writer’s backlog on Steemit can’t be erased unless the whole blockchain is lost. Similarly, Brave allows users to monetize their time and focus with the focus-centric advertisements, while My Crypto Heroes can never take away your heroes, items, or achievements.

But is anyone actually using these alternatives?

The short answer is a resounding yes. The longer answer requires us to look at the market trends and timelines of specific blockchain companies.

Storj, for instance, has a low average user count but is finally entering its early access stages. Hacker Noon and Steemit, on the other hand, already have millions of monthly users who use these alternative websites as their primary source of news. On the other end of the spectrum, we have OpenBazaar, which has struggled to keep users since its founding in 2015 - going through busts of popularity instead of maintaining a steady stream.

Then we have Brave, Alfa, and Antube, three up and coming startups trying to replace some seriously large mainstream companies. Brave launched a few years ago, and after a partnership with Coinbase has slowly increased their user base. Antube, on the other hand, goes through huge bursts of popularity on a monthly schedule, often reaching over 100,000 active users in a month. Alfa is near where Brave was a year or two ago, getting a solid footing underneath its platform while working to build up its user base organically. Alfa greatly differs from other projects however, in that it is also raising funding through Silicon Valley VCs to offer value for token holders.

Of course, some projects fail and drag the entire industry down with them. After the ICO boom of 2017, it was obvious to anyone even paying half attention that not all of those companies could succeed.

Success often follows failure

The industry, users, developers, and investors all learned a big lesson from the previously oversaturated market: we all learned how to be better. Users learned how to better divide their time between new projects, investors learned where to actually put their money. Developers learned what does and doesn’t work, and the industry overall learned how many new developments can actually be sustained.

Even some early projects that seemed so successful have dwindled into a shade of their former glory, one such example is CryptoKitties. At one time, CryptoKitties had over 14,000 daily active unique users, a number that has since declined to around 140, or 1/100th its former glory. Is CryptoKitties dead? Not technically, but nearly 2/3rds of all projects tracked by StateOfTheDapps are dead or abandoned. These projects were often making promises they couldn’t possibly keep, or they weren’t unique enough to survive the culling.

CryptoKitties blew the doors of dapp games open, though, which led to more games like My Crypto Heroes being able to enter the playing field. In the same way, early projects like Storj and Steemit have helped projects like Brave, Alfa, and Antube get more coverage, more investors, and more attention overall.

Dawn of the new era

Great ideas aren’t enough anymore, you need to have a working product, a dedicated user base, and an outstanding concept. This is why Brave, Antube, and Alfa are among some of the most forward-thinking projects in the market today — they are answering the big question of why we need blockchains. 

Data is important, and the majority of internet users give up data every second they are online. This data is harvested, categorized, and profited off of by large companies who want to learn more about who you are and what entices you to make a purchase. What you are purchasing isn’t specific, but how to get you to purchase is the key to their success. Users give this data away, and Alfa, Brave, and Antube are just three unique companies trying to give users more control over their data.

Brave wants to change the browsing experience, allowing users to choose when they interact with advertisements and reward them for doing so. Most of us run an ad-blocking software on our current browsers, but Brave will remove that need. Instead, advertisements will be presented as ‘experiences’ we interact with, giving our full attention for a brief period of time so that both we, the user, and them, the brand, benefit. Rewards come in the form of Basic Attention Tokens (BAT).

Alfa wants to free users from Big Tech walled-gardens by creating a unified social platform where Time is stored as a currency. Founder and CEO Tony Tran unveiled Alfa’s patented user interface at WBS Dubai in 2019 with a novel method to tokenize Time. Recently, Tran’s vision was validated when IKEA Dubai implemented a simple version of it with their Buy With Your Time campaign. “This global response proves that it’s something people truly want. Alfa will make the true monetization of Time a common reality for everyone worldwide,” Tran says. According to the project’s whitepaper, Alfa has two critical implementation that makes it compelling: 1) It has a tightly-coupled method to tokenize the value of Time and 2) A unique platform to deploy the tokens in a way that solves a huge global problem. Tran believes that spending time interacting with things in a digital landscape, ranging from social media to advertisements to your calendar and everything between, should be rewarded.  If a company wants your time, whether to watch a commercial or perhaps discuss with them why you (dis)like their product, you will be rewarded in Enzo (NZO) for doing so. “The problem is,” Tran emphasized, “it’s all talk and papers until people can actually experience a platform and it has to tout a highly differentiated business model—not some blockchain rehash of an existing business.” In addition to this, the EON (Enzo Open Network) Blockchain protects all of your data, giving you complete control over who it is shared with. Facebook is known for selling and abusing user data, your data. Do you remember getting a check in the mail for that transaction?

Users should have more control over their data, but simply relying on a blockchain and token is not the answer. The answer is relying on a company like Alfa to develop a novel blockchain with appropriate built-in economy and then give you the only key to your data is one of many ways to take back control of your time. Antube is doing something similar with videos, a definite necessity in the world of Youtube continually demonetizing creator videos. Giving companies control over our lives by giving them a key to our data is being shown time and time again, to be a terrible idea.

Why do we need blockchains, anyway?

It’s all about data, who owns it and who has access to it. In the past, we’ve had to rely on centrally organized companies to hold our data, but not anymore. Blockchains give users the key and an immutable record of who has ever accessed it and when. Following and supporting projects like Brave, Alfa, Steemit, Hacker Noon, Antube, and more is a fantastic way to help more users break away from the data-hungry companies we’ve all become so reliant on.

Many ways exist to track the progress of these companies, but it is often easiest to head straight to the source. Twitter will give you updates (Brave, Alfa, Antube), while checking forums like Reddit, Bitcointalk, and articles on Hacker Noon can also provide valuable information. 

Telegram groups are another fantastic way to get involved during the early-middle stages of a project, and directly visiting the websites can help you get in early on alpha and beta testing. No matter which way you choose to stay updated, just remember why we are all here: we want OUR data to belong to US - that’s why we need blockchains.

The author is not associated with any of the projects mentioned.

(Featured Image - source.)

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