Examining the network effect of bitcoin carries value because we are closer to a critical mass crossover. The more people joining in, the more valuable the network becomes.
Let us define N as the number of nodes using Bitcoin. For every new node joining, there would be approximately N^2/2 new possible connections. If N = 100,000,000 the total number of possible connections is:
N*(N-1)/2 = 100,000,000*(99,999,999)/2 = 4.9999e15
~ 5 quadrillion possible connections
For the speculator inside you, perhaps a more accurate test of the utility of the network is measuring the network effect of retailers who accept Bitcoin. With 50,000 retailers today:
50,000^2/2 = 1.25bn connections
(if all retailers barter with each other, without users)
A key takeaway here is that even if a better crypto-currency (by design) emerges, it is unlikely to overtake Bitcoin because of the network effect. It is simply too strong.
Do you see yourself using bitcoins next year?
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