The hefty, one-third-pound Angus burger that McDonald's has been testing in several markets since March 2007 will be part of the chain's national "Monopoly" promotion in October, according to an internal McDonald's document obtained by the Tribune. Mike Hughlett reports that it may roll out nationally even sooner, however. A franchisee tells him to look for it this summer.
The franchisee says that he believes the Angus will be a "promotional" product that shows up on the menu for a few months at a time. "It's not the next Big Mac, that's for sure," he says. It may end up being like McRib, a classic McDonald's promotional product that sells well when it's advertised heavily, but not much when it's not, says Dick Adams, a consultant to McDonald's franchisees.
McDonald's management told stock analysts in October that the Angus wouldn't roll out nationally for at least a year. In response to the latest report, a McDonald's spokesman says that the company doesn't respond to speculation. Read the whole story...
Consumer spending on food fell by an inflation-adjusted 3.7% in the last quarter of 2008, forcing food companies to adapt to what they believe will be a lasting shift in eating and shopping habits, Julie Jargon reports.
Kraft has recently launched the iFood Assistant for Apple's iPhone, which allows people to search for recipes and manage their shopping lists. Nestle is pushing its popular Lean Cuisine frozen entrees, offering five for $10 in some stores. And Campbell Soup is creating sophisticated recipes that use its soups and broths as an affordable base for hearty comfort food such as Braised Beef with Shallots.
By early this year, Campbell's research showed that some consumers are doing their grocery shopping only on paydays. They're sticking to shopping lists and avoiding impulse purchases and aren't buying in bulk as they have in the past. Campbell, in fact, ended a 10-cans-for-$10 deal begun in some markets in the fall because shoppers weren't biting.
One last reason to click through to the story: Two recipes with five minutes of prep time that take 20 minutes to cook. Works for Mr. Mom here, but Messrs. Dow and Jones must be rolling over in their gravitas. Read the whole story...
Chain pizza parlors are looking for ways to entice cash-starved customers, too, Jaclyn Trop reports, by broadening their appeal. No. 2 Domino's, for example, has added oven-baked sandwiches to its fare. It's trying to pre-empt what spokesman Tim McIntyre calls the veto vote -- when someone in a group wants something other than pizza.
A national trend toward saving money by cooking at home, coupled with rising costs for raw ingredients, has pizzerias squeezed at both ends. Domino's profits fell 32% last year and the company closed 108 stores in the U.S. But sales have been strong for concoctions such as Philly cheese steak, chicken bacon ranch, chicken Parmesan and Italian flavors.
No. 1 Pizza Hut also is enjoying success with a new menu of pasta dishes. "This move was long overdue," according to Jeremy White, editor of trade magazine Pizza Today, who says pizzerias "backed themselves into a corner with couponing and discounting" decades ago. Read the whole story...
Oracle's Larry Ellison, at 64, is one of the last larger-than-life figures in Silicon Valley, Scott Duke Harris reports, famous for his swagger as much as his swag. He may be the valley's ultimate competitor, known for acquiring companies along with homes, yachts, female companions and, most recently it appears, Sun Microsystems.
Oracle will pay $7.4 billion in cash for Sun, pushing the total value of all acquisitions Monday to $16 billion, Jerry Hirsch and Alex Pham reports in the L.A. Times, raising hopes that companies are cranking up their acquisition engines. Sensing that the economic slide may be bottoming out, they are jumping into deals that plug holes in their operations or expand their businesses, says Wes Walraven, the Western region mergers chief for Citigroup.
Although the bulk of Sun's revenue comes from server and storage hardware, it was Sun's software that drew Oracle. Sun owns Solaris, an operating system that powers many large corporate servers, as well as Java, a platform that runs software applications on 4.5 billion devices. Many analysts expect Oracle to jettison Sun's hardware business after the deal closes this summer. Potential buyers include Hewlett-Packard, Dell, EMC and NetApp, says James Staten, an analyst with Forrester Research. Read the whole story...
Nearly 20% of Americans have abandoned landline telephone service according to a Nielsen Mobile report; Douglas Wolk says that, thanks to voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP), we soon may be snipping the metaphorical cord to cell phones as well.
VoIP is currently hobbled by spotty Internet access and mobile carriers protecting their interests, but has one huge factor in its favor: It is very cheap. According to a recent Yankee Group report, 5.2 % of Americans already use VoIP as their primary home phone.
Recently VoIP became available for the iPod Touch, making it functionally as much a phone as the regular iPhone, except without the two-year AT&T contract. There must be a wireless hotspot handy, however, and they are far from ubiquitous at present. But that may change.
One possibility is that omnipresent wireless Internet access may come to be considered a basic public utility, Wolk writes -- something any modern city provides as part of its infrastructure. Another possibility is that mobile networks that already exist will open up to VoIP companies like Vonage, Skype, and Google Voice. Read the whole story...