MacRumors has released the results of their experiment using AJAX to deliver presentation updates from MacWorld. The numbers are simply jaw-dropping, a 6X reduction in bandwidth.
“[We] consumed over 32 GB of bandwidth during the three hours surrounding the event. (For those interested, a non-AJAX version of MacRumorsLive would have required an estimated 196 GB of bandwidth over the same period of time)”
For sites that experience a highly variable load, AJAX can mean fewer servers, lower bandwidth bills, and less risk of failure. This is a huge, public win for AJAX as a bandwidth optimization strategy.
The old-school RIA technology vendors always made the claim that using the RIA paradigm saves you bandwidth. Numbers on this were always hard to get, and hard to trust.
Theoretically it always made sense that an RIA would consume less bandwidth (in exchange for a larger initial download). The longer a user continues to use the application, the greater this benefit (so an RIA word processor might make more sense than an RIA news site).
Now, watching a keynote presentation takes at least an hour, so it’s definitely long enough to provide benefit. What we see in this case is really different though: AJAX is basically being used as a broadcast technique, grabbing new data every minute so that the user doesn’t have to refresh the entire page. For covering live events that have a large audience, this makes a ton of sense. Expect to see more content sites “pushing” content out to their users this way.