The swinging king has been unusually quiet for days, hovering around $20,000, and hasn't gone much higher since June.

This is bad news for traders and exchanges that profit from bitcoin's wild price swings, and it opens the door for its archrival ether, which is poised to improve its crypto game by switching to a meaner and leaner blockchain.

"Bitcoin is not dead; it's simply dull right now, so traders are seeking for alternatives," said Martin Leinweber, MarketVector's digital asset product strategist.

According to monitoring firm Coinglass, Bitcoin's average 30-day volatility - a measure of how its price swings over a specific period of time - has dropped to 2.7% from above 4% in early July.

Even during the most volatile months of the "crypto winter" of fallen prices, that number has remained solidly below 5% in 2022, a contrast from the previous five years, when even times of lesser volatility were followed by jumps as high as 7%.

Similarly, CryptoCompare's index, which analyses bitcoin futures contracts to calculate how far prices are projected to fluctuate, is slightly over 77, down from more than 90 at the start of the year.

Bitcoin has had periods of lower volatility in the past, notably during periods of depressed or declining values, with price fluctuations frequently returning when trading activity increases.

But this downturn might be different. "This has been a relatively extended period of lower volatility; it's already beyond anything we've seen even in 2019, when these levels lasted roughly a quarter to a quarter-and-a-half," said Stephane Ouellette, CEO of crypto derivatives firm FRNT Financial.