Comcast CEO Brian Roberts dropped a telling anecdote this morning at the Business Insider Ignition conference in New York, informing the crowd that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs once gave him the great idea to put Wi-Fi in cable boxes. At least, it might have been a great idea if Roberts knew what Jobs was talking about. "I went home and said, ‘What’s Wi-Fi?’" he told the crowd.
Of course, putting Wi-Fi in a cable box wouldn’t have created a very different alternate timeline. But the exchange certainly underscores how many ideas the cable behemoth let slip over the years while it rested on its profits. Comcast's cable box has barely changed in more than a decade, even as smartphones and the internet exploded — becoming hugely important ways we communicate and entertain ourselves. Comcast’s cable boxes still don’t have Wi-Fi, but the company is finding other ways to innovate with the internet; most recently, Comcast has been testing arbitrary data caps for its broadband customers in several markets.