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With all the excitement around Web3 capabilities, particularly at the app level, it can be easy to ignore the infrastructure level cornerstones that make it all happen. These L1s, L2s, different programming languages, API compatibility, DAO creations, tokenomics, bridges, and regulations are what allow the top level apps to succeed. Many of those involved and leading the Web3 revolution have seen the innovation cycle at least once before, watching a fledgling technology flounder as it gets its bearings, then one key innovation comes along and the entire industry explodes in growth.
We’ve seen this happen a number of times as the blockchain industry has matured into the Web3 ecosystem we have today, but there are still a number of key growth points ahead. If we look back to similar technology growth curves, such as PCs and smartphones, we can see that there are steady growth cycles from continuous improvements, and drastic growth spikes from these key innovations. We see steady improvements in processing power, memory, network speeds, display resolution, etc. We see modest spikes when elements like software packages, app stores, and new ideas like cloud computing are developed. However, there are only a handful of true growth spikes, and the biggest in these different technology sectors has been the operating system (OS). Let’s look at a brief history of how operating systems have transformed technology industries, what key elements cause an OS to truly accelerate growth, and what we might expect from OS models as Web3 enters its next phase of development. While the Web3 industry has not yet experienced its OS growth spike, platforms like Andromeda may be close to achieving it.
Operating Systems, from PCs to SmartPhones
Surprisingly, operating systems have been around in some form since 1951. They were necessary to run the majority of computers, but even so, early OS platforms still required highly specialized training to operate. The word “intuitive” was not part of the design requirements. Even after DOS was released, the use of computers was still limited to users who had the capacity to understand nested folders and complex commands.
Where the world of PC’s took off in a big way was with the introduction of Windows, and especially with Windows 95. Gone were the days of complex commands and remembering where a file was located. With an intuitive GUI, tiled windows, helpful icons, and entertaining (and informative) sound effects, the world discovered countless new ways to use a computer. During this time, Microsoft revenues rose over 46%. Apple experienced similar success with its OS once it was intuitive enough for the average user.
In terms of mobile, there were several operating systems that saw limited success, but the world changed with the introduction of the iPhone and its IOS in 2007. The smartphone market exploded just as the PC market had, and the invention of the app store democratized software development in a way that allowed countless apps to suddenly be at our fingertips. Google’s Android followed soon after, and the two OS’s have dominated the industry since.
Web3’s Journey to the OS
Looking at the history of new technology launches, it seems obvious that Web3, which can be unwieldy to most users, is due for an OS revolution. The industry is currently truly available to those tech savvy enough to read a whitepaper, crawl through a Github repository, and read a smart contract. This has still yielded a surprising amount of innovation, and there have been strong attempts to make the technology easier for end users. Within an individual app it is possible to make the process easy enough for a non-technical person, but navigating the ecosystem freely is still a major problem for those potential users in the “mass adoption” category.
Seeing the current trends, it will not be long before there is a battle for one or several reigning OS platforms for Web3. As mentioned above, Andromeda has the current lead with its OS and a growing community of users. In fact, when the Andromeda token ($ANDR) was first listed, the demand was so high that Shade Protocol crashed (thankfully it came back shortly after).
So what can be expected with a Web3 OS? If we look at the PC and smartphone markets, we can expect an OS to make development of dApps easier; we can expect suites of tools that are built and available so that software at the L1, the L2+, and the app level run with consistent structure and guidelines; we can expect a seamless interconnection between chains; and we can expect better and faster performances overall. Even though an OS is not as flashy as the latest dApp, it is arguably much more exciting in the transformative effect it will have on the entire Web3 industry. If Andromeda and other competitors can deliver these key benefits, Web3 will skyrocket in growth and quickly begin the much hoped for “mass adoption” era.
The operating system is a strange paradox. For many, it’s either something we never think about on our PC, or are annoyed when there is a free update on our phone. But the OS, for each major technological device, has been the tipping point that allowed the technology to escape its role as a techno-geek novelty and transition to a powerful tool that can be used by anyone. It has sparked the growth of development that starts with limited utility apps and grows to a comprehensive app store with programs that can do almost anything. Web3 is on the cusp of this phase of its life cycle, and we will likely soon experience a dizzying pace of innovation across the industry.
Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.