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.
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.