According to proponents of Solana, a major upgrade on the platform this year and the potential launch of a groundbreaking consumer app could finally solidify its reputation as an “Ethereum killer.” This is evident in the recent surge of on-chain activity, growing developer count, and increasing user base, partly driven by the resurgence of memecoins in December.

Austin Federa, head of strategy at Solana Foundation, believes that the key to surpassing Ethereum lies in the development of consumer-facing applications on the platform. He notes a growing number of developers making the switch from Ethereum to Solana, attracted by lower development costs and a wider range of coding languages available. With support for Rust, C, Python, and soon Move language, Federa is confident that Solana will be the go-to platform for new, widely-used applications in the coming years.

Henrik Andersson, chief investment officer at Apollo Crypto, predicts that Solana may not necessarily overtake Ethereum, but could have a “ChatGPT moment” where a highly successful app attracts a significant number of users and capital.

Firedancer and Solana’s Weakness: The Achilles Heel

Despite its successful launch in March 2020, Solana has yet to overcome one major challenge.

On February 9, the Solana network experienced a significant outage, halting all operations for nearly five hours.

This outage was caused by a bug in the code and was exacerbated by the fact that Solana only runs on two major clients, which many experts believe is the network’s biggest weakness.

According to Pranav Kanade, portfolio manager at VanEck’s Digital Assets Alpha Strategy, Solana’s lack of client diversity is a major obstacle if it wants to compete with Ethereum.

Currently, Solana runs on two clients: one from Solana Labs and one from Jito Labs, which is a fork of the Solana Labs client.

However, any bug in the Solana Labs code can bring the entire network to a halt, which has happened multiple times in the past.

Solana engineer Federa acknowledges that reliability and uptime are top priorities, but argues that this criticism may not be the most accurate for a blockchain network.

He points out that even critical financial infrastructure experiences downtime and scheduled maintenance.

Both Kanade and Federa are hopeful for the upcoming Firedancer upgrade, which will introduce an entirely new independent client later this year. They believe this could lead to a potential Solana flippening.

Unlikely “flippening” for Solana and Ethereum

Despite Solana’s recent surge, the gap between it and Ethereum remains significant.

While both cryptocurrencies have seen a rise in value, with Ethereum potentially being included in US-listed spot Ether ETFs, Ethereum still holds a much higher market capitalization of $404 billion compared to Solana’s $60 billion, according to TradingView data.

Andersson and Kanade both agree that Ethereum’s established ecosystem and development community make it the preferred choice for new developers, giving it an advantage over Solana. Smargon also adds that Ethereum’s decentralized nature makes it a “network of networks,” while Solana is more consumer-focused. However, both networks have their strengths and can coexist as winners in the long run.

Ultimately, it may not be beneficial to view Solana and Ethereum as direct competitors, as they have different visions and goals. While Solana aims to be the fastest network, Ethereum is focused on creating a censorship-resistant platform. Both have their place in the evolving digital landscape, and one may not necessarily surpass the other in the end.

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