One of the best arguments against GoPro's (NASDAQ:GPRO) cameras for the past few years has been the fact that most people have products like an Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone in their pocket at all times. So why buy a stand-alone camera if you already have a camera on you?
This past week's Apple product announcement, however, changes the dynamic. The Apple Watch with cellular connectivity allows consumers to stay connected to the world without carrying a phone. Users can go for a run with an Apple Watch and AirPods or embark on a canoe trip with only their watch. The technology Apple is introducing is making the phone itself optional, making a camera like GoPro perfect to add to the lineup.
GoPro cameras fill a niche Apple can't
An example that illustrates where GoPro brings something an iPhone can't is paddle boarding, which, coincidentally was what an Apple employee was doing to demonstrate the functionality of the Apple Watch Series 3 when it was announced. Out on the open water, I wouldn't want to have a $1,000 iPhone on me and risk dropping it into the water. With the new Apple Watch, the iPhone is no longer necessary to stay connected on the water, but capturing photos of your adventure would be difficult without a phone.
A GoPro camera, however, is perfect to take out on the water. It can easily be attached to a floating handle or strapped to your wrist, making it nearly impossible to lose. Capturing photos and videos is easy with the camera, whether it's underwater or above. The Hero line of cameras is durable and built to withstand the abuse of outdoor activities.
There's a niche GoPro could fill in Apple's product lineup, and now that the iPhone itself is becoming more optional, it could be a useful tool to carry when you want to capture images but don't want to carry an expensive phone. Apple's technology could also fit perfectly under the hood.
Apple's tech would be perfect with GoPro
We know Apple can make a chip that will provide cellular technology and computing power for its watch, so why not bring similar technology to GoPro cameras? Imagine taking pictures from a GoPro camera on the water or while skiing and having them on the iCloud by the time you stop your adventure.
Apple's ecosystem of cloud tools and editing software would work perfectly with GoPro and make the camera more compelling than GoPro's current software offerings. Tying seamlessly to Apple's product library would make owning a GoPro easier and more attractive to Apple users.
A low-risk deal Apple should make
It may seem redundant for Apple to buy an action camera company since its phones already come with cameras. But the iPhone came with headphones and Apple still bought Beats by Dre to augment the experience and bring new services to the business. GoPro could do the same, now that its cameras fit perfectly into Apple's lineup that doesn't require an iPhone.
For Apple, a deal could be pretty cheap, too. GoPro's current market cap is $1.6 billion and a buyout could probably be made for under $2.5 billion. That's a low-risk deal for Apple and could add a compelling product to its ecosystem.