Ajax: The Hero of Long-Tail Apps

Loraine Lawson

Ajax has been a hero in the Trojan War, a popular cleaning product, an acronym, and now, according to Ron Schmelzer of ZapThink, a style of programming that puts more power in the hands of individual employees and gives credence to the newest fad in business thinking, "long-tail" economics.


Ajax appeared on the media radar in mid-2005, and by early 2006 its meaning as an acronym was fixed (Asynchronous JavaScript with XML) and it was being touted primarily as a means of giving users of Web-based interfaces a richer experience. It also improved response times and lowered network traffic by transferring some of the processing from the server to the client.


Schmelzer sees an evolution coming. He posits a next step for Ajax: enabling users to create their own applications, analogous to mash-ups and based on tools supplied by the central IT organization.


What does this have to do with long-tail economics? Well, bookstores stock lots of copies of John Grisham's latest thriller, and not very many copies of Tolstoy's War and Peace, because they can only afford to stock books that sell fast. But, there's a big market for books that sell only one or two copies per year. These are books whose sales curves have a long tail.


Here's the leap: IT departments behave like bookstores. They can only afford to produce "best sellers" that will be used enterprise-wide. Ajax may enable them to provide tools so that users (or, more likely, departmental IT groups) can create applications for which there is very low (but not zero) demand.


"Long-tail" applications: You read it here first.

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Oct 17, 2006 10:18 AM Mike Mike  says:
I've been hearing more and more about this.  I wondered what your thoughts were surronding Dion's blog on ZDNet about "Tacit interactions" and his most recent about Situational Software Platforms.  http://blogs.zdnet.com/Hinchcliffe/?p=69  They seem to be inline with what you are talking about which to me is only added proof.      Reply
Oct 18, 2006 5:35 AM Mark Milligan Mark Milligan  says:
Good to see this concept being blogged more about.  Ajax in and of intself, is just an enabling technology, and gets too much credit for its benefits.  But if harnassed with an environment that real end users, and not the developer-centric orbit, Ajax, along with easier, uniform integration to data services and a reliable connection for Ajax to perform over - makes for a new way for non techies to create their own applications. Reply

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