Web3 Has Been Around for a While. So, Where Are All the Apps?

The dearth of consumer-level Web3 apps is disappointing, but a few could be just around the corner

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Think of the go-to apps on your phone. The ones you navigate with muscle memory. The apps you use so much that you forget you checked them just a minute ago.

Maybe for you, it’s Twitter — or at least it was until Elon took over. Or TikTok. Snapchat? Discord? Instagram? OK, maybe Facebook? Really? Facebook?

Perhaps you take your mobile device more seriously — you’re more into productivity — so it’s Gmail, Calendar and Docs or Office. Or you’re into streaming video with Netflix and YouTube or music with Spotify and Apple. Or gaming with Candy Crush and Two Dots.

Chances are, even if you’re deeply involved in the Web3 world, your most frequently-used apps are firmly entrenched in the corporate establishment of Web2.

It’s true, there’s plenty of places to go if you want to be a degen and trade meme tokens or sweep NFT floors, but where are all the everyday-life Web3 apps?

On the latest episode of the 0xResearch podcast, Solana co-founder Anatoly Yakovenko bemoans the lack of consumer-level apps living in the Web3 ecosystem. 

“There’s no application that we can point to and say, ‘This is general consumers using crypto and getting value out of it’” or “‘these are the business models that are creating value for the world.’” 

Unlocking value for the consumer

Yakovenko explains, “We’re trying to attract folks that have that mindset, that really want to unlock value for the general consumer.” He mentions one app in development that he foresees providing genuine usage on a broader scale.

Hivemapper, an app that Yakovenko says is “competing with Google Street View,” is a decentralized mapping network that uses a crypto-integrated dashcam.  

“People are effectively mining tokens by creating these constantly updated streets,” resulting in rapid updates that he says are “coming in 200 times faster than Google’s.”

“There’s 60 million kilometers of road in the world. They’re over a million already.” That amounts to about two percent of the world’s roads, he says, adding, “They’re moving really quickly.”

“That could be very substantive technology, built using decentralization that we can point to and say, ‘Hey, look, this is competitive with a two trillion dollar company.’” 

“But it’s still not consumer stuff,” Yakovenko admits.

Yakovenko goes on to mention apps that he is excited about, like BackPack, which “can be understood as an operating system for all xNFTs developed on-chain” and “grants access to decentralized applications built on-chain” and Dialect — a “smart messaging” protocol soon to be launched on the Solana Saga app store.

“BackPack and Dialect are new approaches to crypto,” he says. “They’re trying to basically build something similar to WeChat, where you have social and finance all mixed together.”

The meaning of success in Web3

Yakovenko points out the broad chasm between the meaning of success in the massive Web2 market and Web3. “A moderately successful social network that’s struggling to raise money in Silicon Valley with 20 million users would be the biggest success in crypto,” he chuckles.

But it’s something he aspires to see come to fruition: “We can all then point to it,” he says, hoping to soon see an application where “there’s real consumers, they’re doing stuff. They’re making payments. The whole loop works and it’s growing.”

“If we get one of those successes, I think that would be revolutionary.”

“Once you have that many users that are actually using this stuff on a monthly [or] daily basis,” he says, “business models that make sense will just become very obvious and fast to optimize.”

While that one killer consumer app may soon be on the way, it doesn’t seem to be here yet. As of now, “all of that is missing from crypto,” he says. 

“I’ve been working on this for over five years and we still can’t point to that one use case.”


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