Apple was instrumental in accelerating the near-demise of the pocket digital camera when it launched the iPhone, so could it possibly do the same to the action cam market? Wall Street seems to think so, judging from the drop in shares of GoPro – the action cam market leader – after Apple was granted a patent for a wearable camera, according to a report by Reuters (citing the website Patently Apple). The patent shows a camera system that can be mounted onto objects, and even details GoPro cameras’ weaknesses.
Of course, as with all patents, it doesn’t mean Apple is actually coming out with a new product or accessory, but it’s possible Apple could use it (as well as 33 other patents the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded Apple) into a future iPhone, for example. Besides being mountable, the patent suggests the camera system can be used underwater to record both images and audio (in turn, alluding to a waterproofed iPhone). The patent also details a wristwatch device with a camera button (although it bears no resemblance to the Apple Watch). Patently Apple says the patent contains intellectual property Apple acquired from Eastman Kodak in November 2013. Kodak had made waterproof action cameras in the past, called the PlaySport.
If Apple does enter the action cam market, it would also affect companies like Sony, Polaroid, and many other action camera makers. Reuters quote JMP Securities analyst Alex Guana, who doesn’t believe Apple will launch an action camera accessory right now or unseat leader GoPro. But then again, that’s what pocket camera manufacturers first thought about Apple and other smartphones.
You can read the entire patent filing at the USPTO website, but Patently Apple has a nice summary in layman’s terms.