On the iPhone, doughnuts beat burritos.
Dunkin' Donuts this week unveiled a new app -- Dunkin' Run -- for Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL ) iPhone App Store, hoping to succeed where Chipotle (NYSE: CMG ) has failed.
The app itself is pretty slick. You start a "run" by logging into a custom website and identifying yourself as the "runner." Dunkin' Run then sends a blast email to your friends, inviting them to choose goodies from an online menu. A few clicks later, the app collects everyone's orders onto a printable form to take to your local store. "Run" completed.
I'll confess to not being much of a Dunkin' Donuts coffee fan, which makes me an outsider among friends who still live in New York, where Dunkin' Donuts coffee may as well be a religious experience. But I like the app -- the ordering process alone ranks this above the varying options for Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX ) addicts.
Still, not everyone loves the idea. "Someone in DD HQ obviously thinks that office workers want to stay in their cubicle, while their coworkers fetch them coffee. Which is all kinds of wrong," wrote Matthew Shaer for The Christian Science Monitor's Horizons blog yesterday. "People make coffee runs not necessarily because they want coffee -- although sometimes they do -- but because they want a breath of fresh air."
Agreed, a coffee run isn't really a run unless you get outside. A better strategy would be to allow digital ordering and pickup, as Papa John's (Nasdaq: PZZA ) and Domino's Pizza (NYSE: DPZ ) do.
McDonald's (NYSE: MCD ) , meanwhile, has an online "McDelivery" service operating in the Philippines. Dunkin' Delivery? I could see that.
Dunkin' Run is a start, and a better effort than Chipotle managed. But the iPhone can and should be made to do more. Dunk it again, Dunkin'.
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