ETH is an extremely underestimated network. Just this morning I was reading this article about Ethereum being a scam because of its scalability issues. Of course Cryptokitties was brought up and the fear that ETH will not be able to support mainstream applications.
It's weird to think that the number two coin on the market cap is being permanently bashed, but at the same time it makes a lot of sense.
There are over a dozen networks out there that claim to be Ethereum Killers, yet there is no such thing. Meanwhile, the same fears do not apply to bitcoin. Bitcoin maximalism is very strong and the idea that another project could overtake Bitcoin within the next 5 years is laughable to many.
What we have to remember is that every network has its niche. Adding smart contracts to ETH makes it much more vulnerable than Bitcoin, but also provides way more functionality.
What kind of functionality?
In my opinion Maker is the best ERC-20 token currently on the ETH network. It allows anyone with ETH to use their stake as collateral. You can create Dai out of 'thin air' and give yourself a permissionless loan. This is actually quite amazing and, at the same time, completely disregarded as a sub-accomplishment. The ability for ETH to have it's own stable-coin backed by itself is something that will have tremendous network effect going forward.
DEX vs Regulation
There are already a handful of dexchanges that operate directly on the Ethereum network. Sure, you can only trade ERC-20 tokens on them if you want to trade directly on chain, but at the same time there will be a lot of ways around this (such as an ERC-20 token pegged to another asset). That's why Maker is so important. It is literally designed to peg tokens to other assets.
Even if Maker was the only ERC-20 token this would still be a very interesting development. The ability to turn unstable ETH into stable DAI permissionlessly will become more and more valuable as mainstream adoption kicks in. The more adoption in the market, the more centralized authorities will try to crack down on KYC/AML in an attempt to control everything for profit. The ability to hedge our investments directly on chain cannot be overstated.
The purpose of Ethereum is not to run a fully functional decentralized gaming industry or anything else that requires mass transactions to happen very quickly. Ethereum is much more boring than that. The purpose of Ethereum is decentralized finance. It's boring, but it can make us rich, making it not so boring for a lot of us.
Like Bitcoin, the purpose of Ethereum isn't to be on the bleeding edge of technology. It is already starting to settle down and become more stable and consistent. It is these kinds of attributes that bring about mainstream adoption: when the establishment feels safe dipping their toes into the water.
We use Ethereum for buying a house, not for micro transactions.
The same can be said for Bitcoin. These big market cap projects are going to start attracting big money. It's only going to make sense for the applications resting on top of these networks to fit the network itself. Naturally, this implies big transactions that don't need to happen very often, but require a higher degree of trust.
In my opinion, ETH has one of the best networks out there. There are so many developers trying their hearts out to get their projects off the ground. Ethereum isn't going anywhere. In fact, it's expanding. There will be millions of developers working atop the network because the network itself is a neutral economic ground that hasn't yet been tainted by the establishment and their debt/wage/tax slavery.
We really don't see this level of network effect with any other project, including Bitcoin. Bitcoin is the original peer-to-peer money-only transfer. Ethereum is the original peer-to-peer smart-contract platform. Time in the market really means something at this point. It might not in 20 years but it sure as hell does now. It would take years for another project to overtake these ones, and that's assuming optimal conditions.
Luckily, none of the other projects are actually trying to compete with each other. There is so much work to do that everyone can just branch out and complete their own niche and build their own network. The amount of expansion we have left to accomplish far outweighs the incentive for these communities to compete. Naturally, that's just the name of the game when it comes to decentralization.
Don't trust the maximalist naysayers. Ethereum is going to become a very impressive self-contained network will a lot of Defi capabilities. The network is expanding at an exponential rate because the incentive to develop there is greatly increased by the prospect of creating valuable smart-contracts and ERC-20 tokens. Like Bitcoin, Ethereum is already too big to fail and contains a healthy backbone of diehard supporters. I look forward to seeing what they come out with next.