Because decentralization has been viewed by many as intrinsic to the revolutionary potential of blockchain, the point of private blockchains might be called into question. However, blockchains offer much more than a structure that accommodates decentralization. Among other features, their strong cryptography and auditability offers them more security than traditional protocols (although not bulletproof, as noted), and they allow for the development of new cryptocurrencies. Furthermore, voting platforms, accounting systems, and any type of data archive can arguably be optimized with blockchain technology. We are still in the early days of blockchain technology, and the power it has to reshape older systems has yet to be seen.
Nodes can be trusted to be very well-connected, and faults can quickly be fixed by manual intervention, allowing the use of consensus algorithms which offer finality after much shorter block times. Improvements in public blockchain technology, such as Ethereum 1.0's uncle concept and later proof of stake, can bring public blockchains much closer to the "instant confirmation" ideal (eg. offering total finality after 15 seconds, rather than 99.9999% finality after two hours as does Bitcoin), but even still private blockchains will always be faster and the latency difference will never disappear as unfortunately the speed of light does not increase by 2x every two years by Moore's law.
Because decentralization has been viewed by many as intrinsic to the revolutionary potential of blockchain, the point of private blockchains might be called into question. However, blockchains offer much more than a structure that accommodates decentralization. Among other features, their strong cryptography and auditability offers them more security than traditional protocols (although not bulletproof, as noted), and they allow for the development of new cryptocurrencies. Furthermore, voting platforms, accounting systems, and any type of data archive can arguably be optimized with blockchain technology. We are still in the early days of blockchain technology, and the power it has to reshape older systems has yet to be seen.

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The top 10 Ethereum decentralized apps (DApps) have daily active user counts in the thousands. Compare this with a centralized platform like Facebook, which has over a billion daily users, and you can see just how small scale blockchain use still remains. For a detailed comparison, read “State of the DApps: 5 Observations From Usage Data (April 2018)”.
A side-chain is a secondary blockchain layer designed to facilitate lower-cost and/or higher-speed transactions between two or more parties. One case in which they're often deployed is between parties who make many transactions amongst each other. Committing all of those transactions to the public blockchain would may undesirable for cost or other reasons, so the side-chain's job in this example would be to aggregate the activity into the least transactional activity necessary to reflect the final state of the side-chain's ledger.
A consortium blockchain is part public, part private. This split works at the level of the consensus process: on a consortium chain, a pre-selected group of nodes control the consensus process, but other nodes may be allowed to participate in creating new transactions and/or reviewing it. The specific configuration of each consortium chain (i.e., which nodes have the power to authorize transactions via the consensus process, which can review the history of the chain, which can create new transactions, and more) is the decision of each individual consortium.
This approach isn’t fool-proof, but it’s not by mistake that the system looks the way it does today (that’s my history degree talking). Despite best technical efforts, human problems remain within the realm of probability. From http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/15/books/15masl.html: “…blame cannot be easily assigned: not even the most sophisticated economists of the era could accurately predict disaster, let alone guard against it. The effects of a public herd mentality at the time of the [insert catastrophe here] are depicted, all too recognizably, as unstoppable.”

Public blockchains are just that, public. Anyone that wants to read, write, or join a public blockchain can do so. Public chains are decentralized meaning no one body has control over the network, ensuring the data can’t be changed once validated on the blockchain. Simply meaning, anyone, anywhere, can use a public blockchain to input transactions and data as long as they are connected to the network.
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