When Solana launched in 2020, its proponents heralded the new blockchain as an “Ethereum killer” that could dethrone its more established rival as the preferred infrastructure for building decentralized apps (dApps). But after a strong first year, a string of setbacks fell upon the project, hitting its developer community and suppressing the price of SOL.
Now, however, the latest crypto market rally has rekindled interest in Solana. Exemplifying the trend, VanEck recently modeled a 6-year forecast in which SOL could pump to over $3,000. But the fund manager’s prediction comes with one crucial catch.
With the price of SOL currently up over 66% in the last 30 days, VanEck’s latest report signals a resurgence of the Ethereum killer narrative.
Noting that blockchain technology has yet to deliver a “killer app” that propels it into the everyday lives of global consumers, VanEck’s model is built on the assumption that Solana, and not Ethereum, will host the world’s first 100M user dApp.
As a base estimate for the valuation of Solana’s native token SOL, the report forecasts a price of $335 by 2030. In the most bullish scenario, it anticipates the token rising to $3,211 per token. However, for that to happen, VanEck notes that Solana must achieve “Ethereum-like dominance” in the market for on-chain transactions.
Ultimately, however, the image of the Ethereum killer was never about SOL supplanting ETH as the world’s second-most valuable cryptocurrency. As the report acknowledges, partly because of its lower transaction fees, Solana’s “take rate,” i.e. how much value the network extracts from end-market applications, is roughly ⅕ of Ethereum’s.
But while economic metrics like market capitalization and total value locked are often used to rank blockchain projects, if Solana is to launch a 100,000-user app, developer activity is a crucial measure of success.
According to Artemis , the current Ethereum developer community is significantly more active than Solana’s. During the past three months, there were 1748 active weekly Ethereum developers. In contrast, there were just 337 active Solana developers in the same period.
Facing such a major disadvantage, Solana “needs to increase its total developer count as well as its market share of developers to increase the probability of hosting tomorrow’s blockbuster application,” VanEck observed.
One of the factors that has traditionally inhibited the growth of Solana’s developer community is the need for proficiency in the Rust programming language.
However, the pool of Rust developers equipped to build dApps on Solana is growing.
Research by Developer Nation found that in 2023, Rust emerged as the 11th most popular programming language among developers, having climbed from 14th place in 2021. Stack Overflow’s annual developer survey has deemed Rust the most admired programming language for 7 years in a row. Of those surveyed, more than 80% of developers who used Rust in 2023 want to use it again next year.
In the end, Solana may never topple Ethereum. But in the coming years, Rust’s rising popularity and the availability of tools that make Solana development more accessible could give the platform an edge over its peers.