At the start of 2018, bitcoin remains the largest cryptocurrency in the world. The Flippening, a point in time at which another digital currency (often speculated to be ethereum) would overtake bitcoin to become the largest digital currency, has yet to take place. (See more: The Flippening: Will Ethereum Take Bitcoin's Place?)
However, a report by Quartz suggests that bitcoin's share of the digital currency universe, while massive, is smaller than it has ever been before.
Bitcoin Price Falls, Ether and Ripple Gain
The reason for the dwindling position is that bitcoin's price has stumbled in recent weeks, while the value of other prominent cryptocurrencies like ether and ripple has gained at the same time.
Ripple in particular drew attention at the close of 2017 and the start of the new year. The digital currency gained close to 30,000% in value from January 1, 2017 to January 1, 2018.
Meanwhile, Ethereum climbed by about 1,300% over the same period. The world's largest digital currency, on the other hand, has only gained a (relatively) paltry 500%.
The results of these price shifts mean the market value for bitcoin has fallen to roughly 36% of the overall digital currency space as of January 2, 2018. While this does not yet jeopardize this digital currency's status as the world's largest by market cap, it does pale in comparison with the share at this time last year (87%).
For their parts, ripple and ether each comprise roughly 14% of the overall cryptocurrency space, while bitcoin cash takes about 7%.
Will Other Cryptocurrencies Overtake BTC?
The shift in market share has prompted speculation that bitcoin's days in the top spot may be numbered. Supporters of ether, ripple, and other up-and-coming digital currencies point to the enhanced processing speeds and greater utility of these options relative to the original digital currency.
Ether has been the fuel for a number of smart contracts-based applications and startups in the past year, while ripple has garnered headlines for its rumored usefulness to traditional banks. (See more: Ripple Is Back: Here's Why.)
Another potential explanation as to why bitcoin has seen its share fall is simply the price. As investors who are eager to get involved in the digital currency space rush to catch up with those who have been around longer, many are attracted to new digital currencies because of novelty and because they are significantly cheaper than bitcoin.
Investing in cryptocurrencies and other Initial Coin Offerings (“ICOs”) is highly risky and speculative, and this article is not a recommendation by Investopedia or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies or other ICOs. Since each individual's situation is unique, a qualified professional should always be consulted before making any financial decisions. Investopedia makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or timeliness of the information contained herein. As of the date this article was written, the author owns cryptocurrency.