AFAIK the pitch is going to be very different, especially in the initial phases:
Ethereum = smart contracts
SAFE = free/very cheap secure, private storage
I haven’t read up yet, but being blockchain based seems a major limitation to me. Potentially in scalability (unless fixed as you say), but if not that, then in using proof of work computation which is energy inefficient. I also think that Ether is highly priced (~20p quick head calc) for 1000 steps of computation (using the example in the current white paper). That’s a hell of a premium and I doubt it is sustainable against competition (from forks, or SAFE if the same capabilities are added later, and they surely will be unless Ethereum is more efficient).
EDIT: I read the white paper and they give an example of 1000 steps per Ether, so I’ve updated the above (from 100 which is what I mis-remembered). My 20p estimate price / Ether is about right, so I think the price of a computational step is still pitched very high. The issue here is the cost of aquiring Ether to run contracts. If the contracts can be run cheaper elsewhere, they will go, so Ethereum can’t assume a monopoly and if they have competition whoever runs the contracts cheapest will set the price. Seems like a risky proposition to me.
EDIT: I also noticed other risks in the white paper. They are building their own blockchain, with measures to mitigate against centralisation. However, they will require every node to have a full blockchain, which they acknowledge will lead to centralisation as the resources to have a full blockchain will in time grow to TB (currently bitcoin blockchain is 25G - VB quotes it as 20GB so he’s not updated it for a few weeks!). They mitigate against the risks of fraud by the centralised full nodes, making it detectable by SPV (nodes that rely on a server copy of the blockchain. What they don’t mention is the other risks of centralisation - if those centralised nodes fail, become inaccessible, get blown up etc. They also seem to not mention the scalability limitation related to transaction time and rate issues that are fundamental to the proof of work approach (which is essentially unchanged, except for a measure to make ASICs less attractive).
EDIT: When I first heard about Ethereum I thought wow, this is brilliant. It was just before I learned about MaidSafe. I would have invested in it, but now I’m really skeptical - its very hard to see how the Ether value will be set. Maybe that’s not much different from Safecoin, except that investing in Safecoin is not just about value, but values. I think most people who are here, and who invested, will be happy if SAFE works and takes off, even if they don’t make a profit on their Safecoin.
I will come back and update this if need be once I’ve read the latests stuff, but those are my first impressions. EDIT: Done!