GoPro CEO: Apple isn’t working on an action camera rival

Nicholas "Nick" Woodman, founder and chief executive officer of GoPro, holds a GoPro Hero 3+ camera.
Photograph by David Paul Morris — Bloomberg/Getty Images

Nick Woodman, GoPro’s CEO, would have a huge problem 0n his hands if Apple introduced a rival action camera. But he said Tuesday that there’s no sign that the tech giant behind the hugely popular iPhone and iPad is getting into the business, despite it being granted patents for action cameras earlier this year.

“I do not think that Apple is investing and exploring GoPro-like devices,” Woodman said at a tech conference hosted by tech news site TechCrunch in San Francisco.

Woodman, no doubt, is keeping close watch on whether the highly secretive Apple is working on a rival product. When news about Apple’s (AAPL) patents emerged in January, GoPro’s (GPRO) shares tumbled 12% in one day.

Of course, companies routinely request and receive patents for technologies they never turn into real products. So Apple’s patent filings don’t necessarily mean it has any intentions of making action cameras.

“It’s not so easy to just say, ‘Oh, we’re going to go get into GoPro’s business,’ even through an acquisition,” Woodman said, with a not-so-subtle hint that he’s not looking to sell anytime soon.

And there’s truth to the statement. Apple is well known for carefully getting into markets only when it knows it can have a huge impact and keep its big profit margins. Trying to dethrone GoPro might not be worth it for Apple, at least for now, while it works on its Apple Watch, possibly a car, and all its other electronics.

In any case, Woodman views his company as more than a maker of action cameras for use outdoors and in extreme conditions. Rather, he’s called it a “lifestyle media company” in the past, and said on Tuesday that the “action camera company” label is “degrading,” perhaps hoping to market his products to a wider audience than skateboarders, surfers, and rock climbers. Lately, he’s been focusing on transforming GoPro into media empire based on all the video footage its customers shoot with its cameras.

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