This week a company I never think about got another one I forgot it existed. It was a reminder that we shouldn’t underestimate the boring.
This stuff isn’t exactly cool, but it can be useful, and Poly is pretty profitable and valuable enough to sell for $1.7 billion.
The buyer, HP Inc., makes a lot of money selling fleets of computers and massive printers to corporations. It’s a nap that made HP worth nearly $40 billion, or about eight times the value of WeWork, a company that was exciting and also almost out of cash and dying in 2019.
Cell dweller products may not be the super miracles we imagine from Silicon Valley, but the world runs on boring technology that needs boring organizations to do boring but important things. Many of the companies that sell this technology make cash even if only five people are able to explain what software giant SAP, for example, does.
My mission is to take a few minutes to help us appreciate the boredom that keeps the world going.
I don’t know what technology my employer is using to process my paychecks. Most of us will never see Amazon’s computer servers sending Netflix to our TVs. The US healthcare system relies largely on medical records from a software company called Epic. You may not know what Oracle is, but you’ve probably indirectly interacted with one of its databases if you bought something online.
We’ll never give this kind of boring software a valentine, but we need it to work. The boring stuff can also make what we do better, e.g. B. enabling telemedicine calls or helping us to check if diapers are in stock before we drive to the store.
A lot of technology designed for business stinks or is stuck in the past, but it’s the be-all and end-all. Companies that make boring technology for organizations will likely outlive the dozens of Doritos on Demand startups. And it’s a gold mine. Businesses and governments are expected to spend approximately $4.5 trillion for technology this year. Some of the world’s most valuable technology companies, like Microsoft, SAP, Adobe, Oracle, Salesforce, and ServiceNow, are boring.
Boring is not only lucrative. It can also be a political asset. Facebook can’t buy a pack of gum without state regulators suspecting the company is plotting to cause tooth decay around the world. And if it tries to buy a company, all antitrust alarm bells will ring.
But in January, Microsoft announced a nearly $70 billion acquisition of video game titan Activision Blizzard. Regulators could still block the takeover, but Microsoft can already try some of it his identity as the least disputed of the tech superpowers. Microsoft has more revenue and is worth far more than Facebook’s parent company, Meta. But it mainly makes products that companies use to do things like crunch data, rather than communication tools that have been misused to spread conspiracy theories.
Markus Gorenberg has dedicated his professional life to snooze technology. In the late 1980s he worked at Sun Microsystems, whose technology, like Unix and Java, is present in almost every single current technology. Gorenberg described Sun as “very boring, but it drove everything”.
Since then, Gorenberg has worked for investment firms that specialize in backing startups that sell basically unspectacular technology to corporations.
He told me that many of the so-called enterprise tech companies aren’t the most innovative. But he is counting on the boring industry becoming a breeding ground for exciting inventions.
Gorenberg is basically talking about innovations like the technology that Microsoft recently released helps software to write itself. His investment firm, Zetta Venture Partners, backs a start-up that scans car accident records to check insurance claims and another that detects potential network outages before they shut down the internet.
He speaks of a future in which boring technology remains indispensable, but also has a bit of wow.
If this technology can be a little exciting and help us all, great. But there will always be a bedrock of boring technology touching our lives and the world — even if we never know it exists.
Want better cell phone calls at home? try this
Brian X Chenthe consumer technology columnist at The New York Times, suggests what to try if calls on your smartphone sound terrible or drop out at home.
Many of us experience infrequent cell phone calls at home. It can be helpful to use Wi-Fi calling, which routes a phone call through your internet connection. This often gives us more reliable and better quality phone calls than routing them through our local phone networks, especially if we don’t live right next to a cell phone tower.
As a rule, smartphones do not automatically use Wi-Fi calls. Here’s how to enable this feature.
On iPhone: Open the Settings app, select the option for Phone, choose Wi-Fi calling, tap the bar to enable the feature, and enter some details about where you live. (This will help law enforcement locate you if you dial 9-1-1.)
On Android phones, Wi-Fi calling settings may vary, but try this: Open the Phone app, tap the option for more, and then select Settings. Select the option labeled Calls and tap Wi-Fi Calling.
One caveat: This isn’t a good option if your home Wi-Fi is spotty. Here’s my final column on how to fix home Wi-Fi issues.
Before we go…
Oops: hacker apparently forged emergency requests from law enforcement agencies Officials for several Internet companies to hand over information about their users. Apple and Facebook were fooled by the claims last year, Bloomberg News reported, providing information such as addresses and phone numbers that were then used in harassment campaigns. (Subscription may be required.)
You may have noticed that almost all Facebook Reels videos are: Vox’s Recode publication reports that Facebook’s efforts to push these bite-sized videos into our feeds mean that Reels are featured 11 out of 20 of Facebook’s most viewed posts in the US for the last three months of 2021. And a number of Reels are anonymous, reposted videos from TikTok or some sort of spam, Vox wrote.
Related of On Tech: Facebook will make you love Reels.
The hangover when countries block websites: After Turkey banned Wikipedia in 2017, it took years of legal wrangling to get the online encyclopedia going again. The Washington Post reported that the fighting over Wikipedia maybe a glimpse into the future for Facebook, Twitter and other sites banned in Russia. (Subscription may be required.)
Related: A young woman in Michigan, Annie Rauwerda, is compiling some of Wikipedia’s strangest pages. An example: The entry for “The Most Unwanted Song”, a new tune from the 1990s.
hugs to that. (It is not boring.)
A flamingo known by its leg tag #492 escaped from a Kansas zoo in 2005 (on Independence Day). My colleague Daniel Victor amusingly describes the life of No. 492 on the run for the past 17 years and the people who were surprised to see a flamingo in Texas.
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https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/31/technology/hugs-to-boring.html Hugs too boring – The New York Times