The first live release of the Ethereum project called “Ethereum Frontier” was released this week, but leaked communications between developers suggest that the project’s future may be under question.

The frontier release focuses on command line tools, which allow developers to load and execute contracts and send ethers to each other on the Ethereum blockchain.

Users and developers may also create a tradable digital token that could be classified as a currency or an asset. The “currencies” on the Ethereum blockchain utilize a standard coin API, which enables contracts to be automatically compatible with any wallets or exchange using the same standard API.

Years to Competition

The sudden release of Ethereum comes as a surprise for some who expected the project to drag on for years. Just a couple of months ago, Ethereum team member Matt Liston worried that the project needed "years more of development.”

The leaked Skype chat read:

[5/15/15, 11:51:17 AM] Texture [ethereum]: but how long can we continue to pay for my altcoin habit

[5/15/15, 11:51:22 AM] Texture [ethereum]: based on your numbers I’d say the end of the week

[5/15/15, 11:51:33 AM] Matt Liston: Ethdev needs years+

[5/15/15, 11:51:35 AM] Texture [ethereum]: this is really distressing

[5/15/15, 11:52:18 AM] Matt Liston: lol again :)

[5/15/15, 11:52:36 AM] Kelley Becker: And then the foundation takes over in terms of protecting and advocating. Eth dev either dissolve, spin off, or revive somehow else. It's a part of the strategic visioning that will occur this summer

The emails also stated that most of the funding gathered from the Ether crowdsale is used up, and can only sustain the Ethereum development team for another seven months at best.

[5/15/15, 11:49:38 AM] Matt Liston: How many months does ethdev have at current burn?

[5/15/15, 11:50:23 AM] Jeffrey Wilcke: approx end of the year if ether is worth nothing

[5/15/15, 11:50:35 AM] Jeffrey Wilcke: bit hard to give an exact date

[5/15/15, 11:50:48 AM] Kelley Becker: Specifics being worked out with the cfo currently. Nothing to nail yet

[5/15/15, 11:50:52 AM] Jeffrey Wilcke: bit do the math and check the amount of btc left vs monthly burn in the past month s

[5/15/15, 11:50:56 AM] Jeffrey Wilcke: exactly

[5/15/15, 11:50:59 AM] Matt Liston: 7 months

[5/15/15, 11:51:01 AM] Matt Liston: optimistically

Ongoing Ethereum Projects

Despite the experimental status of the current version of Ethereum, over 70 prototypes and demonstrations of applications have been built on the Ethereum blockchain. Some applications including the Augur Project – a decentralized prediction market has entered into the alpha stage of development.

Although many developers and blockchain enthusiasts feel optimistic about the launch of Ethereum, it remains to be seen how long it will take for any Ethereum applications to gain traction and ultimately, widespread adoption.