State of Brave Browser Dec 2019

Published on Dec 18, 2019 in Crypto Research

The good

Just one month into the public launch of Brave, there are already a lot that I’m excited about.

The first is familiarity: It’s built on Chromium, so it’s a comfortable transition for anyone familiar with Google Chrome (also built using Chromium).

The Brave team has made it easy to import all of your Chrome settings. All in all, it took me about 60 seconds to get my Brave browser configured just how I like it because I was able to copy over all of my Chrome settings and extensions.

I’ve also noticed that Brave feels faster. Maybe this is just me? The Brave team must be caching more aggressively, which there is a downside to that I’ll address later.

And of course, I love the token-economics at play with the Basic Attention Token (BAT). This feels like an architecture that will both make users’ lives better, and also motivate them to switch. The prospect of earning tokens for your time viewing ads feels like something the masses could get on board with.

The bad

With that said, there are several UX issues with Brave that will keep it from mainstream adoption in the near-term. I think the team will get there, but it’s not going to happen over night.

The wallet system is confusing. You have your “crypto wallets” in the browser, but also wallets on Uphold? It’s unclear how the wallet in the browser is even used (if at all). Maybe I need to configure this?

And why do I get paid out my mined BAT monthly instead of live? That seems antithetical to crypto currencies?

My friend and I did a test tipping each other through our websites. The BAT was taken from our Uphold wallets and deposited into our Uphold wallets. This was slightly confusing because we were looking at our “crypto wallets” in the browser waiting for the BAT to show up, but they never did.

The other odd thing was that Brave sent the BAT in two chunks. I sent my friend a total of 1 BAT and he received a deposit of 0.95 BAT soon after and another 0.05 BAT about an hour later. At first, we thought there was just a steep fee, so I’m glad 100% of the tip does go to the content creator. It’s unclear to me why it went out in two chunks, though?

Speaking of Uphold wallets, why is it that I need so many?

I setup my personal website and my github up to receive tips. In total, I have four different types of wallets:

  1. My “Brave Browser” wallet
  2. My “Brave Rewards” wallet
  3. My personal website wallet
  4. My github wallet

Man, I’d love to have just one. I get that I’d need separate ETH and BAT wallets, but I feel like one of each would suffice. The average person would look at that screen and have no idea what to do.

The final buggy thing I’ve noticed is that Brave seems to cache files fairly aggressively. I’m sure there’s a setting for me to control this, but I haven’t taken the time to look for it and a mainstream user won’t either. When I’m developing angular sites (which should be cache-busted), I often can’t get Brave to reload the files after I’ve edited them. For now, I use Brave for personal browsing, but I’m still stuck on Chrome for dev work.

The ugly

There are a few foundational issues I worry about with Brave…

The first is that we’re relying on the generosity of mankind to decide to give away the BAT they earn in order to keep a healthy crypto economy. I’d like to think that people will give away BAT to content creators, but I also worry that if Brave actually starts to take off, BAT will go up in price, and people will hoard their coins.

I could also foresee huge click farms where workers have two dozen devices with Brave browsers open and they round-robbin open ads on them to mine BAT. I could even see this being a side business for the social media click farms that already exist and are running thousands of devices.

Conclusion

Overall, I love Brave browser and I’m still bullish on its future. All of “the bad” is a result of imperfect UX that will be ironed out over time and eventually become smooth enough for mainstream users.

It’s “the ugly” I worry about.

Disclosure: I’m long BAT

This article is part of the Crypto Research Collection

1. State of Brave Browser Dec 2019

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