Top 10 AJAX Applications – How Have Things Changed?

"Too early is the same thing as wrong." -- Old Venture Capitalist Proverb

Most Venture Capitalist (VC) proverbs are actually stolen from investment banking, but I think this one is actually home grown. (Full disclosure: my wife is a VC and I count many VC's among my friends and acquaintances.) I thought it would be instructive and amusing to look at the predictions of one VC and see if he was right, too early, or just plain wrong.

Dan Grossman of Venrock was kind enought to publish a top ten list of AJAX apps last September. I would classify the picks in his list into four categories:

  1. More or less useless "Oh, cool, it's AJAX type apps." Amazon Zuggest is probably foremost among them, but the periodic table is also showing it's age. Any kid with Dojo and a few minutes on their hands could whip that up now.
  2. Desktop style applications that are enabled by AJAX technology. These are Kiko, Writely and Time Tracker. Of course Google's Calendar app has turned off the oxygen for Kiko. Look for Writely and it's pygmy competitors to suffer the same fate shortly.
  3. Improvements on existing apps -- portals, news readers, etc. -- through AJAX technology. Everyone has a portal and a news reader, so slathering on the AJAX was pretty easy. Now everyone has an AJAX portal and RSS reader -- Pageflakes and Bloglines come to mind.
  4. Proto Web 2.0 applications. These combine the usability enhancements of AJAX with collaboration and network effects. Backpack is probably the best of these. I'm not sure whether to put Director into this category or not. Social bookmarking sites like Digg certainly seem to dominate this category right now.

I think if I put together a list of my top ten AJAX applications, two things would be true. First, at least four of those applications would be from Google. Second, in one years time, at least four of those applications would still be from Google, but everything else on the list would have changed. Maybe "AJAX" is not a specific enough category on which to base a top 10 list. (Should we say Web 2.0 and then proceed to define what Web 2.0 means?)

Thanks to Dan for sticking out his neck and making the list. I'm not sure any of these applications other than Backpack make it onto the list now. What does your list look like?