The New Scientist reports that McDonald's has filed a patent for a new business model that seems likely to become part of the future of Happy Meals: providing media content that can only be partially downloaded on each visit.
Patents filed by Disney reveal plans to drip-feed entertainment into a portable player while the owner eats in a restaurant. You only get the full programme by coming back to the restaurant a number of times to collect all the instalments. McDonalds could use the system instead of giving out toys with Happy Meals, suggests Disney's patent.
When the owner buys a meal they get an electronic code that authorises a partial download. If the file is in five parts there is a strong incentive to come back for four more meals.
(Thanks to SmartMobs for this one.)