While the whole world is still accustomed to using centralized apps, the advent of blockchain technology has given rise to the new gamut of its use-cases such as decentralized applications (DApps) in recent years. DApps are growing rapidly reaching a market worth billions of dollars and millions of users.
What is a DApp?
DApps are a decentralized version of consumer apps that runs on blockchain technology. They are not controlled by any single entity and function through multiple nodes in the network.
The decentralized applications are built on blockchains using smart contracts so theoretically, a single smart contract can be called a DApp. With this underlying blockchain technology, they provide more security, control, and privacy of data to the users.
Broadly, four main requisites can define decentralized applications.
- The application must be decentralized i.e. it should not be controlled by any centralized authority.
- They operate autonomously, without the help of a central entity, thanks to a consensus mechanism that provides proof of the value exchanged on the network
- Consensus also allows each application change to be decided by consulting all the nodes in the network.
- They are designed around incentive-based crypto-economic models, most often through the creation and exchange of a cryptocurrency.
Considering this criterion, Bitcoin can be regarded as the first DApp in the world. As Bitcoin empowers the users to control their transactions in a decentralized manner, through a public ledger.
You might have noticed that Ethereum DApps are getting deployed in every popular sector. Ethereum blockchain is the preferential network to build DApps. But besides Ethereum, Solana (SOL), Polkadot (DOT), and Tron (TRX) rank among the top DApp building platforms.
To date, exchanges, gaming, and DeFi DApps are the most popular categories among others while real estate, health, and insurance have seen slower growth.
How Decentralized Applications (DApps) Work?
In a decentralized network, data and operations work on smart contracts in a blockchain. Smart contracts have a set of rules. DApps interact with smart contracts through contract requests. The transactions are processed on the blockchain and resultantly DApps provide the assigned services by completing the transactions.
The first-ever DApp wasn’t crypto-related, a brief history of DApps
The web can be seen as the largest decentralized application as no single entity controls it or owns it. The decentralized application ecosystem has evolved out of its previous versions such as decentralized computing applications, peer-to-peer (P2P) applications, etc. DApps don’t need blockchains to run as the previous versions of DApps were built on peer-to-peer networks.
You must have heard about the disruptive audio file-sharing application Napster, which was launched on June 1, 1999. It is said to be the pioneer in peer-to-peer file sharing. It was followed by LimeWire and Kazaa (P2P file-sharing software) and internet communication anonymity security provider The Onion Router or Tor. The most controversial player in this early brigade of open source software is BitTorrent, which in turn launched its won token the BTT.
Some examples of the most popular DApps
One of the best examples of DApps is CryptoKitties. It is a gaming app and collectibles marketplace built on the Ethereum blockchain.
With a unique model and strategy, it has managed to become one of the largest decentralized applications on the Ethereum network. Over the recent years, it has dominated the NFT gaming sales charts. However, the DApp ecosystem now spans way beyond the collectibles space.
Above, you can see some of the most popular DApps in the crypto space right now. The top 5 of the most used DApps aggregated by DAppRadar show how popular they have become. DApps now boast millions of users with a monthly volume of several billion. As you can see, the top of the rankings is representative of the latest trends in the cryptosphere, being DeFi and play-to-earn games.
Pros and Cons of Dapps
- Resilience. Unless there are issues, a DApp never stops working.
- Transparency. Everyone can inspect the code, which is of course open source
- Resistance to censorship. With some exceptions, a DApp is by definition censorship-resistant
- Privacy. Users’ personal data is not owned by a company that can choose to do whatever it wants with it unilaterally
- Speed. Decentralized applications can be quite slow
- Costs. On some networks, the cost can be higher than on a centralized application
- User interfaces. The user interfaces are generally not as engaging and aesthetic as on a regular application.