Apple is one of the most powerful companies in the world right now thanks to a string of high-profile successes, like the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad. Apple's Watch smartwatch hasn't arrived yet, but I'm sure it will continue the trend and give other smartwatch and fitness band companies a run for their money.
In other words, any company has to be a little worried if it looks like Apple is moving into its market. The latest company to feel that twinge is the popular maker of rugged cameras, GoPro.
If you haven't heard of GoPro, in 2002 it started making small cameras that surfers and other extreme sports enthusiasts could wear to capture their exploits. In the 10+ years since, its rugged, inexpensive cameras have become the go-to for most kinds of outdoor video recording, and most high-end consumer drones use them. Click here to watch some of my favorite videos that were captured using a GoPro.
So, could Apple actually unseat GoPro in the video camera market? Does it even want to?
The entire question came up because the Patent Office just granted Apple a patent for a remote-control camera system. Basically, it's a way to remotely trigger a camera to take a picture using something like a smartwatch.
Honestly, that doesn't sound like it should be patent-able, but I'll leave that aside for the moment to focus on GoPro.
On the news of Apple's patent, GoPro's stock took a 12% hit, down to $49.87. Investors are worried that Apple might be making a move toward the camera market, that a remote-triggered iPhone recording video might cut into GoPro's sales, and that GoPro will end up in a legal battle if it wants to add a similar feature to its own cameras.
For the record, you can already use a smartphone or tablet to control a GoPro camera, so lawyers are probably going to be sorting this one out for a bit.
Neither GoPro nor Apple has commented on this yet. If I was GoPro, I wouldn't be too worried since Apple files patents all the time that rarely get used. Plus, a rugged camera doesn't really hold with Apple's image of cool, hip elegance. It's more likely you'll see this as a feature in the Watch and that's about it.