In 2000 Belo corporation started rolling out the now defunct CueCat scanners for free to all subscribers of their Dallas Morning News. The little cat shaped scanners (get it, like a mouse... ugh) we the brainchild of a guy named J. Hutton Pulitzer (no relations, seriously, he changed it from J. Jovan Philyaw. Talk about planting the seeds of your own destruction).
We could get into it's development and multi-corporate foundations costing in upwards of $185-MILLION, but we wont, that's not the point. The point is that it was a flop. A HUGE FLOP.
The idea was that you would use this lil' guy to scan certain items, originally news articles, and get more information. The bar codes littered the pages of the Dallas Morning News and the end result is that it would simply take you to an online version of the article you are already reading. Supposedly there was supposed to be additional information but this rubbed buyers and subscribers the wrong way. What are you paying for if you aren't getting all the information?
There was also integration to correspond television programs you were watching called CRQ but we have no idea what the hell that did. It seems as though it was a precursor to the Shazam app's ability to listen to TV commercials, but no one uses that either.
The main problem was that it turns out people don't want to drag their newspaper over to a computer and scan a barcode. Supposedly there was also to be additional information provided online when you scanned an article, but this rubbed buyers and subscribers the wrong way. What are you paying for if you aren't getting all the information?
All that, plus the damned thing didn't really work half the time. We know this, because there was one in our houses because we lived in the DFW area when it was rolled out... there probably still on lingering around somewhere.
Anyway; Forbes, WIRED and a few other magazines got on board and expected the Cuecat to be the next best thing but the damage had already been done and by 2001 the cue cat was put to sleep.
It really seems as though the world was not quite ready for the CueCat, honestly. It's something we do all the times now with a smart phones, scanning barcodes to check competitors pricing, QR-Codes on signs and advertising, etc. It was ahead of its time.
Interestingly, though, the CueCat is crazy easy to hack and you can buy your very own hacked scanner at cuecats.com relativity cheap.
Take from this what you will but know that whenever anything is promoted as the next best thing, it usually is far from even matching the last shitty thing.