Ethereum is designed to be more customizable and flexible value exchange technology. It is more than just a network for value transfer and recording transactions in the blockchain. Just like Bitcoin was created to decentralize modern financial system, Ethereum aims to use the same technology to replace internet third parties.
The advantage of Ethereum as a network is that its users can create, publish, monetize and use programs and applications on the platform and can use the cryptocurrency Ether as a means of payment.
These applications are known as Dapps - decentralized applications. Dapps are open-source software based on a Ethereum blockchain. One of their main feature is that they don't need a third party to function.
This is why Ethereum describes itself as "the world's programmable blockchain".
Ethereum as a cryptocurrency is second in market value after Bitcoin.