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This year was a wild ride for Ethereum, leading to a growth of 5000% at one point compared to the price at the beginning of the year. From May 2017 onward, Ethereum peaked rapidly around $400, though it lived through sell-offs in July and fluctuated around $200. Trading volumes in a 24-hour period also varied, as they peaked around $3 billion during the DAO Casino IPO, but slowed down to less than 700 million toward the end of July. The behavior of Ethereum closely tracked interest and price fluctuations in Bitcoin, indicating that the two coins rise on speculative marketing pressure.

Ethereum Project

Is Ethereum the future? Currently, the Ethereum platform seems to be the most sought-after ecosystem to create new enterprises based on blockchain technology. Also, Ethereum provides fertile ground for the growth of new tokens. Holders of Ethereum still show enthusiasm in buying up the new tokens in an ICO, despite past cases of hackers running away with some amount of Ethereum invested in the project.

The Ethereum ecosystem of projects is expanding, and there were 400 new applications or ideas implemented on the network, along with their respective tokens. But it is still unclear which of those project would move into viability beyond relying on angel investors to donate Ethereum. At this stage, the platform has weathered several glitches and interest in the Ethereum blockchain after the hard fork remains high. For more information on the hard fork and the DAO hack, read this article.

The interest in Ethereum would remain robust as soon as interest in ICOs remains strong. Currently, the market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is above $60 billion, as Bitcoin's heft makes up a little below half of that amount. New coins appear all the time, and there are specialized services which reveal the upcoming sales and possibilities of investment.

ICOs offer a low-cost, speculative access into the world of cryptocurrencies. And while it is unknown which coin would rise in value and trade well on exchanges, ICOS come often enough to offer diversification and a stake in innovative IT projects with some original thought behind them. Lesser applications and their current status are on display at State of the Dapps.

Ethereum allows the creation of limitless projects because the platform presents a Turing-complete computational virtual machine. There are no limitations to what the network can compute and represent, in contrast to the Bitcoin network which for security purposes allows for limited functionality.

Ethereum Price

The price of Ethereum goes through a cycle of peaks and troughs, with significant volatility. Drops of 25% or more are not unusual and follow periods when the general confidence in cryptocurrencies decreases, or there is rapid selling of Bitcoin.

[caption id="attachment_247" align="alignnone" width="806"] source: coinmarketcap.com[/caption]

Ethereum projections focus on the period 2018-2020. According to experts deploying a specialized formula of growth, the Ethereum prospects realistically include a price of up to $1,000. However, it is unknown how long this price would remain, and if growth would be smooth or choppy, with the usual fast upward swings and long weeks or months of recovery. Bullish price predictors allow for a price of above $500 by the end of 2017.

The Future of Ethereum Mining

Along with the evolution of the Ethereum community and the price fluctuations, mining also lives through its changes and challenges. The current state of the network allows Ethereum to be mined using custom-built GPU machines. For more information, refer to our guide on How to Mine Ethereum.

The first thing about mining is that the expenses should match the potential payout from block rewards. Currently, Ethereum mining is comparably profitable, and new miners are joining in. When more miners jump in to make calculations for the blockchain, the difficulty of new block calculations adjusts upward.

But there might be a bigger change looming in the mode of mining Ethereum. The Ethereum team has outlined a plan to deploy a new consensus mechanism to the blockchain, called "proof of stake," to replace the current "proof of work" gradually. But since the renewed algorithm has been pushed back a few times already, it is still uncertain if the Casper update will become a reality soon enough. If the update passes, holders of large stakes of Ethereum will work toward achieving consensus on the network. The changes would make regular proof-of-work mining obsolete.

Technologically speaking, the Ethereum project is also headed toward its next stage, aiming to build a "world computer." The previous stages of the Ethereum platform were titled "Frontier" and "Homestead," and the next stage bears the name of "Metropolis." The biggest challenges in the Metropolis stage would be to update the network and ensure consensus without the need for a hard fork or an accidental forking of the network. But since those events and updates are already well-known to the Ethereum community, they would probably not lead to loss of confidence or panic among investors.

The rest of the innovations of the Ethereum platform mostly pertain to technical additions to allow greater flexibility of distributed app builders.

Tracking the Future of Ethereum

The best way for learners to follow the newest developments on Ethereum is to join the conversation and use the resources of the community.

Live updates at all times come from the Twitter account, @VitalikButerin.

Official news and updates also go through the Ethereum foundation at Ethereum.org.

And if you feel confident enough in the future of Ethereum, move onto the guide on How to Buy Ethereum.