The writing is very clearly on the wall here: Radio Shack seems screwed. And that’s too bad, because it was once such a great retail chain.

No one is asking, but my plan would be to create an “Apple Store for everything and everyone.” That is, use their current weakness, their insanely large store footprint, as an advantage. Create an Apple Store-like experience for more than just Apple products, all over.

Apple can’t do this for obvious reasons (they’re not going to sell Android devices). Neither can Microsoft (they’re not going to sell iPhones). Neither can the carriers (well they potentially could but they’re far too greedy). And Best Buy is just a bloated mess at this point.

It sounds like RadioShack is starting to do some of this. But I’ve seen the new stores. They’re not going far enough.

Horace Dediu:

The graph lets us answer the question “What would have happened if Apple had not paid any dividends, bought back shares and taken on debt?”

The answer is in the blue line. It would be about $210 billion today. There are about a dozen companies other than Apple worth more than that amount.

Even more insane: had Apple not instituted the dividends and buy backs, they would be well on their way to having $1 trillion in cash.

A trillion dollars.

Daisuke Wakabayashi on the screens likely to find their way into the next iPhone:

Mass-producing sapphire is complex. Sapphire crystals are grown in massive furnaces at high temperatures. After the ingredients crystallize in an energy-intensive process, the result is a giant hockey-puck-shaped cylinder called a boule, which is carved into different shapes. Apple’s Arizona plant is using next-generation furnaces capable of producing boules larger than 440 pounds.

By forming boules more than 50% larger than produced by current machines, Apple and GT aim to drive down the price of sapphire and close the gap with glass.

Chalk it up to: things you can do when you have over $100 billion just laying around.

(As an aside, I keep thinking of this.)

Brian X. Chen looks a bit into Apple University:

In “What Makes Apple, Apple,” another course that Mr. Nelson occasionally teaches, he showed a slide of the remote control for the Google TV, said an employee who took the class last year. The remote has 78 buttons. Then, the employee said, Mr. Nelson displayed a photo of the Apple TV remote, a thin piece of metal with just three buttons.

How did Apple’s designers decide on three buttons? They started out with an idea, Mr. Nelson explained, and debated until they had just what was needed — a button to play and pause a video, a button to select something to watch, and another to go to the main menu.

The Google TV remote serves as a counterexample; it had so many buttons, Mr. Nelson said, because the individual engineers and designers who worked on the project all got what they wanted. But, Apple’s designers concluded, only three were needed.

Ah yes, I remember that remote well. And another great argument for the VP of Devil’s Advocacy

Also, humorous timing of this given my own rant about remotes. (I still personally find the current Apple TV remote too simplistic. It’s nearly impossible to “type” with. But if it added voice input…)