Why not provide the friends page via POP3? I always talk about IMAP, but IMAP is a bitch to implement, and there aren't many good clients anyway. But tons of people can check POP... via webmail, via Hiptop Sidekicks / other phones, you name it.
I think it'd actually hit the server less, too, since clients would cache things they already have.
It's been ages since I did work with POP, but I remember the protocol is trivial. I'm not sure if I'd support the "delete from server" or not. There are a few minor complications, but pretty simple.
Adding this to mental wishlist.