Centralized platforms often come bundled at launch with compelling apps: Facebook had its core socializing features and the iPhone had a number of key apps. Decentralized platforms, by contrast, often launch half-baked and without clear use cases. As a result, they need to go through two phases of product-market fit: 1) product-market fit between the platform and the developers/entrepreneurs who will finish the platform and build out the ecosystem, and 2) product-market fit between the platform/ecosystem and end users. This two-stage process is what causes many people — including sophisticated technologists — to consistently underestimate the potential of decentralized platforms.
The lesson is that when you compare centralized and decentralized systems you need to consider them dynamically, as processes, instead of statically, as rigid products. Centralized systems often start out fully baked, but only get better at the rate at which employees at the sponsoring company improve them. Decentralized systems start out half-baked but, under the right conditions, grow exponentially as they attract new contributors.