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I'm thinking that Apple sees a new threat to their mobile (profit) dominance: Fully portable Mobile+Desktop OS enabled through Core M, i.e. Windows 10. "Bitcode" is them preparing to unify their OSes just in case Win10 is successful and buyers suddenly want to have one device to rule them all (i.e. MS Continuum). This could very soon be a reality - and Apple seems to be preparing themselves. Smart move [1].

[1] http://img2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20130701185217/jurassicpa...

My thought is more that they are going the Android route of using an intermediary bytecode, to get both platform independence, but on-device compilation for performance. If they can push hardware that will automatically run faster, that makes it all that much easier to sell new product.

Yes, I didn't mean Apple is going the MS route from a technical point of view, just the timing of their platform independence efforts leads me to believe that it has to do with pressure (or the potential thereof) by Microsoft.

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