The problems with many/most companies are (1) inertia (and the bigger they are the more they have to try and overcome - when I was in the navy aka before the ships I served on became artificial reefs they (~3,000 tons) could come to a crash stop in 2-1/2 boat lengths while a super tanker of the time would need 15 minutes and 3-kilometres; organisations are surprisingly similar), and (2) if it's out of their comfort zone they can't get a grip.
Perhaps the greatest 'don't get it' of all time was Xerox who simply decided (after a decade of investment in Xerox Park) they were a copier company and so the future of SME/consumer computing went elsewhere; big companies fumble the future every day.
Newspapers had test labs and were trialling cool internet stuff in the 80's before the web and in the 90's with the web but, just as with Xerox, it never got out of the lab; at least not in their hands. In late90's I had my most complex contract job, a 2-year build a multi-dimensional array database with GUI (a way out of my depth job on the bleeding edge of what was then possible that I got done in 22 months; go me! ) One of the people that gave me help when I whimpered on listserv and icq (remember them?) had worked on the future of newspapers in the early-mid-90s at the Knight-Ridder Information Design Lab. What was that future?
Note: in reading the following realise that is was written in 1995:
The world is rapidly becoming digital and newspapers are evolving into electronic products. But computer-displayed newspapers have a number of limitations which will likely prevent their widespread acceptance. A solution to the display dilemma can be found in the rise of the tablet newspaper.
The tablet is a portable information appliance that weighs under two pounds and offers a resolution comparable to ink-on-paper. It can handle text, images, sound, and moving images. Some of that information takes the form of newspapers, while others may be books, magazines, financial statements, utility bills, or a host of other items that are today displayed on paper.
The tablet is not a personal computer as we know it today. The tablet is easy to use and requires no manual. It is not tethered to an electrical outlet. People use it to interact with information. Typical PC applications are word processors and spreadsheets, in short, data creation tools. Typical tablet applications are newspapers, books, and e-mail, in short, data use tools.
The Knight Ridder Information Design Lab is developing a newspaper interface for the tablet device. The tablet newspaper draws on the strengths of print and on the strengths of electronic forms. It is both browsable and searchable, both broad-reaching and customizable. It offers pages with story abstracts linked to more detailed stories, background material, photos, sound, and video. People can ran read as deeply or as casually as they want. Stories are no longer limited to "news hole," the space allotted to editorial content after press configurations and advertising have been considered.
The tablet newspaper includes editorial content and advertising, both important components of a local information package. Like editorial content, advertising can have many layers, and can be searched and sorted, as well as browsed. Additionally, ads can have transaction hooks, so that readers can make reservations or purchases.
Packaging and design are also important components of the IDL vision. The tablet has a vertical orientation, a form that has developed over thousands of years and has become optimized for displaying textual information. The tablet interface uses type sizes and styles as visual clues to what lies beyond. These visual clues are ones that we have all learned since childhood and are second nature to us. Branded identity is an important part of a newspaper product, and the tablet enables publications to keep their well-known look and feel.
An electronic newspaper, displayed on a tablet, is able to combine the best of the past, present, and future.
Later that same year they closed the lab:
Knight-Ridder (US), information services and newspaper concern, has closed its Information Design Laboratory, Boulder, CO. For the time being, the closure signals the end of the company's Tablet system for delivering newspaper text electronically to portable digital devices. Tablet is much further into the future than first thought, according to Anthony Ridder, Knight-Ridder president.
They grasped the future, had it well in hand, then deliberately let it slip away.
It's like déjà vu all over again.
Note: at the time Knight-Ridder had a higher profit margin than Exxon.
Note: Apple profited from both failures to execute.
Note: in putting my webdev business plan together in 1999/2000 I considered the above very very carefully. And most webdevs haven't a clue what might have been. They think that today is 'new'. And what they think is the 'future' almost certainly isn't.
There are none so blind as those who will not see. The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know.
---John Heywood, 1546