The good news? If someone complains that this insignificant plug costs $50, tell them it’s a tiny computer!

They ripped the thing apart and found an ARM-based SoC built by Apple, complete with its own RAM. 

Their guess was that this system was meant to enable AirPlay to more easily convert video output from a Lightning connector to HDMI. But an anonymous comment they link to seems to dispel that. Instead, this may be a fairly powerful micro-computer whose sole purpose is video conversion (as opposed to doing it on an iOS device).

Sadly, the video output from this adapter isn’t all that great right now (supposedly being worked on). Still, fascinating that Apple went through all this engineering for an adapter that relatively few people will buy. 

A few things:

1) Great, if obvious, title.

2) This is The Register, so it could be all bullshit.

3) Timothy Prickett Morgan:

Intel’s point in hosting Thursday’s meeting with journos and in telling this story about the meeting with Bechtolsheim is that the company wants to demonstrate that it has not been caught by surprise by either the advent of microservers or the movement of the ARM architecture from the smartphone and embedded spaces into the data center.

As the saying goes: if they weren’t too stupid to see the writing on the wall, then they were too incompetent to do anything about it. It’s never clear which is worse.

Adam Satariano, Peter Burrows and Ian King for Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. is exploring ways to replace Intel Corp. processors in its Mac personal computers with a version of the chip technology it uses in the iPhone and iPad, according to people familiar with the company’s research.

I guess this is interesting in that it would be the end of an era, of sorts. And it shows just how far ARM-based chips have come. But ultimately, Apple’s iOS device business is so much larger than the Mac business now (both in volume and revenue) that such a move would almost be an afterthought.

I suspect that yes, this will happen. The last three computers I’ve owned have all seemed to be about the same speed despite newer Intel chips in each. We’ve reached a plateau where most users simply won’t notice a major difference in PC chip upgrades — they’re all “fast enough”. If Apple can get their own A”X” chips up to those speeds in a couple of years, it will likely make sense from a cost perspective alone to make the move. Also, we all know how Apple loves to control the whole stack.

Also, if iOS devices and Macs start running the same silicon, the app compatibility equation becomes even more interesting.

So, Mozilla and Google are upset because Firefox and Chrome won’t be able to run on Windows RT. But isn’t that obvious? For all the talk of “no compromises" out of Redmond, that’s exactly what Windows RT is: a compromise.

It’s a less-powerful version of Windows 8 that needs to be more tightly controlled to be able to run on less powerful ARM chips. Again, that means compromises. One of them is apparently browser control.

And Microsoft can probably do this because they’re a total non-player in the tablet space right now. While Mozilla and Google obviously think this should fall under the “browser choice” antitrust stuff from the 90s, this is clearly different. Windows RT is not going to have a monopoly over the market in any way, shape, or form. At least not anytime soon.

John Gruber brings up a good question:

What if Windows 8 for ARM, instead of being called “Windows RT”, were instead called, say, “Metro OS”? Would that make a difference? Is Dotzler arguing that Microsoft should not be permitted to ship a version of Windows that locks out third-party browsers, or that Microsoft should not be permitted to ship any OS that locks out third-party browsers?

In light of what Apple has done with iOS, it’s not clear how you can actually make the second argument. As such, it would be humorous if Microsoft continuing to use the “Windows” brand (even when they probably shouldn’t) came back to bit them in the ass here (but I don’t think it actually will).

Mary Jo Foley reports that Microsoft may drop the traditional Windows desktop element of Windows 8 for ARM tablets. What’s odd is that this idea of having it both ways (Windows desktop and the new Metro touch experience) was key to an argument Windows chief Steven Sinofsky made back in August about Windows 8.

Of course, that argument for “no compromise” read exactly like the definition of a compromise. So if true, I think this is the right move. 

But what’s not yet clear is if this is only the case for ARM tablets (that’s how it sounds). x86-powered tablets may still run the dual-action Windows 8. Also not clear: what about ARM-powered notebooks/netbooks? 

It’s starting to sound a lot like your typical 14-option approach from Microsoft. Windows 8 Tablet Touch Live Professional Edition ‘12 for ARM Tablets with Bing anyone?