Pointing the big guns of JavaOne at AJAX seemed very strange when I first saw it go by. A bit like attacking tractors or escalators: it's a bit of infrastructure, a programming technique, not a competing vendor or product. But later, the possible significance dawned on me (maybe I'm slow on the uptake and this is obvious to everyone else, I dunno).
AJAX is a useful technique for building rich, information-centric applications, the sorts of applications that help readers get the most value from what they see and help companies get the most value out of the content they have.
What's significant about this isn't how efficient it is, or how agile, what's significant is what's missing: there's no relational database (because that's a dumb way to store the rich content that drives applications like this) and there's no Java stack (because, well, because you just don't need anything as awkward and complex as a Java application server to get the job doneJava fans: please put down the flame throwers. I like Java. I'm a Java fan. It's my go to language for building applications (like XML Calabash). I just never drank the “application server” kool aid. If that was the answer, I always used to think, you must be asking the wrong question.).
So, just maybe, AJAX is a kind of competitor to Oracle+Java. Credit where it's due, I never would have seen that.
[ Yes, I'm coming late to the party. I put this in the “wait 24 hours” bucket and then forgot about it for a few days. –ed ]