MainNet Celebrates 2nd Anniversary as NEO Fails to Deliver on Expectations
As China’s first open-source blockchain project and intelligent asset platform, NEO (originally launched as AntShares) has always been one of the most popular platforms in the industry, ranked No.15 for market cap. Da Hongfei, Founder of NEO, spoke out about NEO’s intention to become the world's No.1 blockchain platform by 2020 at the first NEO Developers Conference earlier this year.
It has now been two years since NEO launched its MainNet. But since then, what has been done by the NEO project team and its community? Has there been any progress made in terms of technology, ecology and community?
To answer these questions and more, Cryptonews Hub has conducted an in-depth investigation into NEO’s various updates and practices over the past two years, to create an overview of NEO’s ecology from multiple dimensions. Cryptonews Hub looked into its changing vision, technology and ecology, developer ecology, economic model optimization, user community, strategic partners and establishment of an investment system. The investigation revealed NEO MainNet is running smoothly, the developer community is mature, infrastructure is well-developed and the community is very popular. NEO faces several challenges though, such as its excessively centralized consensus, weak application ecology, lagging technology, lack of innovation, and unclear plan for NEO 3.0.
MainNet Running Smoothly but Consensus Still Too Centralized
For two years, NEO MainNet has shown great stability and security with its original practical byzantine fault tolerance (PBFT) consensus mechanism. So far there are seven consensus nodes for maintaining NEO’s MainNet. Five of them are maintained by NEO Foundation, one is maintained by the City of Zion (CoZ) and one by Royal Dutch Telecom (KPN). Although NEO is becoming more decentralized, it’s still insufficient and progress is slow. There is still a big gap in terms of the number of nodes, decentralization of nodes and delegation of voting rights.
Slow Technical Progress
After the launch of MainNet, NEO’s core team focused more on the iterative upgrade of each technical module, investigation and repair of vulnerabilities, as well as the development of documentation and front-end visual rendering. Yet no major technological breakthroughs have been made and progress has been rather sluggish. Careful reading of the official monthly development updates reveals that a significant portion of documentation was related to development and source codes.
NEO 3.0 Lacking in Direction
In July 2018, NEO launched NEO 3.0 in an effort to overhaul the design of the current core module to adapt to future large-scale commercial applications. In particular, plans for technical improvements included: enhancing the stability of the platform, improving the capability of the transaction processing system (TPS), providing smart contract extension APIs and optimizing economic and pricing models. This plan involved a wide range of technologies but lacked innovation. GitHub shows that most of the proposals are still in discussion and there is still no clear plan on implementing them.
Maintenance of NEO’s core code bank “neo-project/NEO” is also clearly inadequate. There is a lack of code contributors, code updates are infrequent and only one developer has submitted a code (no more than five times) in the past month. The overall popularity of the code also falls far short of public blockchain platforms such as ETH and EOS.
Number of DApps Increases but Activity and Popularity Lag
NEO has released 75 DApps thus far, five times the amount released in 2017. However, compared with the development of EOS and ETH in the same period, NEO’s DApps are far behind in terms of the application growth rate, the number of existing applications (more than 100 for EOS and more than 1,000 for ETH) and application activity and attention gained (up to 5,000–10,000 DAUs on EOS and ETH).
None of the popular websites which provide information and insights on DApps contain the applications from the NEO ecosystem. The in-app transactions and user activity are tepid and the NEO ecosystem has proven inadequate in providing influential DApps such as CryptoKitties and Fomo 3D.
Thriving Technology Developer Community
Tracked by Cryptonews Hub, NEO has established a large community of talented developers within its ecosystem, including influential and large-scale communities such as Red4Sec, City of Zion (CoZ), NEO News Today, NewEconoLabs, KeyMakers and NEO Research.
The NEO Foundation provides financial support for the development of core communities and the developers of these communities are mostly active. They are mainly responsible for developing DApps (such as NEX and NNS), building NEO infrastructure (such as SDKs with multi-language support, wallets and blockchain browsers), undertaking various blockchain events and supporting the implementation of other applications to promote the development of the NEO ecosystem.
Well-Established Ecosystem Infrastructure
The NEO ecosystem has gradually taken shape over a period of two years, thanks to the tireless efforts and contributions from developer communities. Development of tools and facilities have been an important part of this, from blockchain browsers and wallets, to the client side, compilers, development documents and video tutorials.
The ecosystem has six mainnet blockchain browsers—neoscan developed by CoZ communities and neotracker developed by Neo Tracker are the most popular ones.
Wallet apps includes 7 PC apps, 10 mobile apps, 6 online wallets and 3 hardware wallets. They cover a large mainstream system and NEP asset portfolio and provide various forms of functional support, security design and multi-language support.
Active Community Users, Various Blockchain Competitions and Ongoing Communication
The NEO Foundation and its community frequently hold various blockchain events. These include the influential NEO Blockchain Game Development Competition, the CoZ community NEO tutorial competition and the NEO Creative Design Competition.
A wide range of community events are held, such as online tutorials, blockchain open classes, online seminars, meet-ups, workshops and global programming days every month in different locations around the world.
Frequent and diverse ecological interactions have further consolidated and expanded NEO’s community development. On October 24, 2018, the scale of the NEO community development was as follows:
Two years after launching its mainnet, NEO has made technical progress with its technical community, user community and ecosystem applications.
For a China-based platform, NEO has now become a world-renowned public blockchain platform with a solid community. However, due to stagnant decentralization of its consensus mechanism and a lack of technological innovation and breakthrough, NEO 3.0 is still under discussion. Code updates are infrequent, which dampens NEO’s chances of becoming the world's No.1 blockchain platform before 2020.