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General Mills' Betty Crocker goes mobile

Wondering what's for dinner? General Mills' Betty Crocker brand has launched an iPhone application to help answer that question.

The iPhone application is a mobile version of the Betty Crocker Cookbook. It is free and includes 4,000 tried-and-true recipes.

"General Mills' strategy is to make our content available in places and devices where our consumers can benefit from the information," said Mike Bettison, Web site manager at General Mills, Minneapolis, MN. "The strategy with the iPhone application is a great example.

"We're watching smart phone adoption with interest and the Betty Crocker Mobile Cookbook, which offers about 4,000 recipes from BettyCrocker.com, is a good opportunity to expand our reach," he said.

The Betty Crocker Cookbook for iPhones doesn't require a wireless or 3G connection.

The mobile cookbook lets iPhone users search by recipe or ingredient, view ratings of recipes and save favorites for future reference.

"Big brands that have customers on iPhones should be launching applications," said Julie Ask, vice president and principle analyst at Forrester Research, Cambridge, MA. "The level of engagement with the mobile Internet on iPhones is higher than it is on a lot of other devices.

"It would be hard to name a device that sees more page views per person than the iPhone or sees more usage," she said.

Consumers can type in what type of food they have in their pantry and the tool delivers recipe ideas based on that information.

The mobile cookbook also gives step-by-step instructions and full nutritional information for every recipe. Consumers can save recipes and email them to themselves to try later.

"How effective [a brand's] approach is depends upon the target audience and how well the application is designed and implemented," Ms. Ask said. "Consumers won't just use an application because it is free. There needs to be some value added."

How the application is marketed and the extent to which the brand is tied to the content and functionality of the application is also important, she said.

FedEx for the iPhone
FedEx has also joined the iPhone bandwagon.

FedEx Mobile now supports iPhone owners with both a special Web version of FedEx Mobile and FedEx Mobile for iPhone.

FedEx Mobile for iPhone helps consumers keep track of all their shipments automatically. Also, My FedEx, FedEx Desktop and FedEx Mobile for iPhone are fully synchronized.

Consumers can add shipments to their Watch List, or give them nicknames.

Anything a consumer ships with his or her account number, whether through FedEx Ship Manager or FedEx Ship Manager, is automatically added to FedEx Mobile for iPhone.

With FedEx Mobile for iPhone, consumers can verify that a package sent was delivered, create a shipping label, get a rate quote easily and find the nearest FedEx Office.

All of the contacts in a consumer's Fedex.com Address Book are available through FedEx Mobile.

The locator feature asks consumers to enter a phone number or ZIP code and FedEx Mobile helps them get to the nearest FedEx Office Print & Ship Centers, FedEx World Service Center locations, FedEx Office Ship Centers, FedEx Authorized ShipCenter locations or FedEx Express Drop Boxes.

"I think applications generally provide a better experience than mobile browsing for information services," Ms. Ask said. "The direct-to-consumer approach is attractive to developers because it saves them from going carrier by carrier to get expensive distribution deals.

"Most of the application stores are on open platforms," she said. "The device-driven application stores simplify the process and billing, are likely trusted by consumers and the experience can be better because they are native applications."