What are Altcoins & Cryptocurrencies?
Altcoins & Crytpocurrencies
Altcoins are the collective definition for all the cryptocurrencies that came after Bitcoin. So even Ethereum, Ripple and other popular coins would fall into this category of Altcoins. The term Altcoin comes from the abbreviation for "Alternative Bitcoin." They were named this because they were all aiming to do one of the following things: 1) improve upon the Bitcoin components or 2) replace Bitcoin as the standard cryptocurrency.
As of this writing in January 2018, there are roughly 30 new ICO's (Initial Coin Offerings) every day and it doesn't show any sign of slowing down. Despite the huge drops in Bitcoin and other altcoin valuations the crypto buyers making up the core of the purchasing community appears to have a lot more appetite for risky assets.
But what you should be aware of is that the majority of the altcoins being produced and put on the market are just copies of Bitcoin and Ethereum with very minor if any modifications. It's important to know this because the majority of buyers believe each coin is entirely different from the other coins when in reality they are just a few copies of the exact same things with minor changes. So you will really need to check out the white paper, the website and main goal of the altcoin before you buy it. Otherwise you are literally just giving your money away.
A final word on altcoins. Don't fall in love with the vision, fall in love with the underlying technology that separates it from the other altcoins. Make sure you are truly getting something unique with an active community that will support it as the crypto market goes thru the numerous ups/downs of a young and developing market. Not all of the altcoins will stay around in the coming years. Many of them will disappear, fail to be updated, and possibly stop working. Choose carefully.