Update: it appears to be a chip that Apple will license out as part of its "Made for iPod" licensing scheme.
There seems to be a lot of brouhaha over at iLounge and Boingboing over the revelation that the iPod Shuffle’s new headphones contain a special new chip that could be some sort of hardware DRM. Of course we haven’t figured out what the 8A83E3 chip does yet., many think it is a multiplexer.
Unfortunately, Apple has been known to be a little bit "closed" when it comes to iPod and iPhone connectors (see video out cable).
But maybe it is a just controller chip for the Shuffle’s headphone buttons? It also may be a way to communicate with Aliens…no one is sure yet.
We hope it isn’t some sort of DRM that controls what headphones or charger the Shuffles can use, but until someone with knowledge of the situation can sort it out, we’re going to just sit by and watch..