What does Ethereum do better than its pre-crypto equivalent? Well that remains to be seen, for sure, but so far it appears Ethereum's characteristics make it well suited to be a kind of decentralized global "App Store" and a crypto trust-maker. With well coded smart contracts... well coded being the big caveat here... the cryptocurrency community can really step away from old, expensive "analog" trust-makers like Kickstarter, eBay, PayPal and the paper contract you sign when you buy a house.
There's value in cheaper, faster, more decentralized trust-makers.
Here's an example: Want to host an auction? Just do it on the blockchain; whoever sends you the most crypto by a certain cut off time wins your listed item, all other lesser bids get automatically bounced back to their respective owners. This is just one of several already existing uses for Ethereum.
In the end, these technologies complement each other. We need immutable money tokens that are actually rare (Bitcoin) and as our relationships and app ideas become more complex, we'll need a community of developers - and a blockchain - for that, too. Or maybe, one chain can become both things over time.
Both can have enormous value to society. Or one can.
New to Bitcoin and Ethereum? Learn more and get your first coins by watching the quick tutorial below:
Full disclosure: Not financial advice, provided for educational purposes only. Not intended as a recommendation to buy or sell any cryptocurrency or asset. At time of publication, I do hold some bitcoins and ethers in my long term portfolio.