I'm pro Lightning Network but I it's important to ask these questions and analyze how to improve the experience. In the end if we do it right, we might be able to onboard more people into Bitcoin
By any measure, the lightning network *has* been a success.
But, as other have noted, the true bifurcation will be between the sovereign nodes run at home or on online servers by plebs, and the vastly larger custodial nodes that will host services for users, thinking of Alby, Cash App, Wallet of Satoshi, and even Fountain App for podcasts.
Most of home node runners just cannot compete with the liquidity and channel routes run by these custodial services, so it's difficult to immediately onboard someone without having to recommend them. I like the go-between method offered by Breez, or even the flexibility of Phoenix, and I do think this is where the majority of the lightning network will eventually end up. That actually has some advantages (privacy, mostly anon nodes, built-in lightning paths, easier path to liquidity, etc.), but almost means the higher chance for rugging because of bugs or malfeasance, as well as a "blackboxing" of the entire lighting experience (opening channels via on-chain transactions, etc.)
I think it's a great second-layer and does serve us well, but it's only a building block toward creating a more complete "user experience" — lightning users of the future will never have to balance liquidity or struggle to keep their node synced, for instance.
The development work has only begun, and I'm excited for the future. The demand is there, we just need to make sure there is workable supply for the next round of onboarding.
Great piece! I went through similar thoughts on our site, and I'm hoping to stay positive.