This may come as a surprise to many but one of the main reasons was in fact security and integrity of the blockchain. I believe it was one of the best decisions they could make under the circumstances surrounding the hash spikes.
By having a dedicated ASIC mining base as opposed to miners who can switch at will provides significantly more security. This is why I believe block chain communities should embrace ASIC development on their networks, rather than resist it. Many developers in the cryptocurrency world say that the fears of centralization are overblown and that ASICs actually improve the security of a cryptocurrency network by making them harder to dominate with raw computing power.
While there are plenty of home of the GPU miners that are fairly loyal and would like to mine the coin there was simply not enough of them to maintain the stability and security of the block chain. Many of the GPU miners wake up every morning and check, then decide what is the most profitable coin to mine for the day. Even worse with the large GPU-based mining operations there is a lot of jumping from coin to coin and mining the most profitable coin, ETN was abused by them way too long.
Leading up to the fork Electroneum block chain was raided almost daily causing spikes and destroying everything the GPU miners worked for during that day. For smaller networks in particular like ETN at the moment, high volatility in hash rate did pose a threat as it lead to less stability with increasing vulnerability. it was not if - but - when someone came along with enough rented hash power and raided the network for 51%.
There were only two options: Fight the ASICS or Embrace it.
The only effective (albeit short-sighted) way to fight ASICS would be to hard-fork every time we need an adjustments to diff levels and algo types. This strategy of catching up to something that already occurred makes no sense and does not really seem to be very sustainable as a strategy. This would end up in a “cat-and-mouse” game where the community would have to change the protocol anytime new hardware comes out. Once again, you don’t have to look further for proof than to Monero. When they added ASIC resistance to their main protocol it led to the messy hard fork of four new projects, each with the pre-fork software open to ASIC miners - yes they are still fighting this battle and with the programmable FPGAs on the horizon it will get harder if not impossible. .
There was really no choice but to embrace the ASISC and accept certain truths about them, many in the crypto sphere are pointing to outdated examples from 2014 / 2015 how ASICS took from an average home gpu miner, unfortunately staying on with the GPUs would come with disastrous ending and no one wanted to accept this as a fact. it seems obvious that the ideal scenario would be a diversified landscape with miners purchasing their ASIC hardware from various manufacturers and thus creating an ecosystem where the long term utility value of their respective hardware is tightly connected to the value of the specific network/coin they are mining for.
Obviously more specialized hardware would move mining even more away from small scale operations in private household basements to rather large scale and professionally run mining operations. However, this is a trend that the ecosystem has seen over the years with GPUs already and in the end could eventually just be the price a crypto-network would have to pay for an increased level of network security. BTC is slow but very stable becasue of the ASIC miners, why resist it? Embrace it!
There are many arguments that one can make in either direction ultimately a decision was made and a good one at that so lets not argue about decentralization/centralization. Anyone can go on ebay and buy an ASIC miner to mine ETN. Ever since the fork our block chain is purring like a kitten and Electroneum can concentrate on building a product that will revolutionize this entire crypto space.