Apple patent for digital 'action' camera prompts GoPro stock slide

Apple has patented a new design for a digital video camera that could potentially compete with the rugged portable cameras made by GoPro, a move that sent GoPro's stock tumbling.

GoPro shares dropped more than 12 percent on Tuesday after reports of the new patent surfaced on tech blogs and financial wires.

Apple has not announced any plans for the patent, which covers a design for a remote-controlled, digital camera that can be attached to a helmet, surfboard or scuba mask.

But as first reported by the blog "Patently Apple," the company's application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office says Apple's design improves on aspects of GoPro's camera. Apple says GoPro's camera "can cause excessive wind resistance and presents a high profile that is more susceptible to damage."

Representatives for Apple Inc., based in Cupertino, California, and GoPro Inc., based in San Mateo, California, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Patent office records show Apple first applied in 2012 for the patent, which was granted Tuesday.

But one tech analyst cautioned against reading too much into the filing. "Apple develops and patents lots and lots of technology all the time. Only a fraction of it ever sees the light of day in commercial products," said Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research, who tracks consumer tech products.

Apple already has developed sophisticated camera technology for its iPhones and iPads, added Dawson, who said he doubts the company would want to sell a stand-alone camera unless it could be tied in with Apple's broader family of products and services.

Still, the news seemed to make some GoPro investors nervous.

"Anytime Apple enters a market, it can be bad news for existing players," Dawson noted.

Go Pro's shares ended down $6.91 to $49.87.

Apple shares gained 97 cents, or slightly less than 1 percent, closing at $110.22.