The two things that strike me as interesting about CryptoNote currencies (such as Bytecoin and Monero) are:
- They're intended to provide untraceable payments/unlinkable transactions, unlike Bitcoin in which every transaction is publicly recorded. There are workarounds/add-ons for Bitcoin (laundries, exchanges/wallets that generate new addresses automatically or on demand, etc.), but untraceability/unlinkability were never part of the Bitcoin ethos per se. They are explicit and intentional features of CryptoNote currencies.
- They can be mined from a normal PC. Hell, they can be mined from my Chromebox (using MinerGate's web miner) and from my phone (using MinerGate's Android app). Affiliate link time -- check out MinerGate via this link and if you do some pool mining with them I get a cut.
Why is the second feature important? Because Bitcoin requires significant resources to mine -- for it to be worth it you're going to have to have dedicated rigs using graphics cards. That's why when there's some big question or event, i.e the halving, the Bitcoin core developers huddle with a small club of VIP miners to talk things over. And if a significant chunk of heavy hitter miners should decide to drop out, verifications will slow to a crawl.
It seems to me that CryptoNote could be a lot more like torrent sharing, where lots of people are willing to maintain the block chain by mining in an extra tab and/or while they're not actually using their machines.
Not for big money, but for very small money and also very little trouble, and from the same kind of sentiments one gets from holding 1/xth of a shared file as a torrent and letting people grab it.
It's not especially CPU-intensive (I'm mining in another tab as I write this post and it doesn't seem to slow stuff down at all). No dedicated rigs needed, just a mining client or web mining tab. Anyone can do it, and it seems like lots of people might want to (and to use the currency for various things, especially things where untraceability/unlinkability are desirable.
I'm sure there are at least 50 things I don't know and/or haven't considered that will almost certainly make all of the foregoing, and me, look stupid. And some of you know what they are. So please, 50 comments explaining those 50 things.