Ever since the profound effect of the invention of the transistor in 1947, the impact of inorganic semiconductors on our technology world has continued to expand. The III-nitrides (GaN, AlN and InN) are a current example of a class of semiconductors that is increasing ‘exponentially’ in its impact on technology. While the II-IV nitrides are intimately related to the III-nitrides, to date surprisingly little research has been done on the former. Using recent results, the context of the III-nitrides, and focusing in particular on band gaps, structural characterization and phonon properties, I will attempt to convince you that the II-IV-nitrides are of scientific interest, and also show great promise for significant roles in technology. Along the way, I will comment on some sociological and economic drivers of the development of new technologies.