The majority of Apple patents never become products at all–but that didn’t stop investors from ditching GoPro en masse after it was revealed that Apple had filed a patent for a product that looks suspiciously like a potential competitor.
As described by Apple, the device is a miniature portable camera system that could be affixed to various objects, such as a bike helmet or scuba mask, or else mounted to the handlebars of a motorcycle or the front of a surfboard. Given the company’s impending arrival in the wearables field with the Apple Watch, something GoPro-y would seem to fit nicely within its product ecosystem.
GoPro went public last June, and has been trading around double its initial public offering price of $24 per share, but saw its stock price plunge by a precipitous 12% over the course of the trading day. (The beginning of the slide coincided with the release of the Apple patent information by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.) While GoPro would certainly have the first-mover advantage in any remote camera clash with Apple, it would be hard-pressed to compete with the hardware giant’s brand firepower or sales channels. In one of its best-ever years, the company in 2014 unloaded a massive 270 million units of product across its various lines.
One analyst speculated to Bloomberg, saying “it’s more likely that Apple would use the remote capability included in the patent to let customers control the zoom and other photo and video settings on their iPhone or iPad cameras from another Apple device.” Still, investors know better than to bet against Apple when it sets off down a certain path.