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EA turns lemons into Lemonade Tycoon for iPhone

Remember the classic game Lemonade Stand? Lemonade Tycoon brings that business-strategy gem to the iPhone. It's a blast for kids and adults alike, and it doesn't cost a dime!

Got what it takes to run a successful lemonade stand? It's tougher than you think.

Earlier this week it was Myst. Now another PC classic (hell, Apple II classic) has made its way to the iPhone. Lemonade Tycoon is Electronic Arts' adaptation of the seminal Lemonade Stand, a business and economics lesson shrouded in an addictive turn-based strategy game.

Indeed, what looks like (and is) a cute little kids game about running a lemonade stand is actually a clever course in sales, marketing, and management. The goal: Build your neighborhood juice biz into a Starbucks-like lemonade empire. ("Lemonade-bucks"? Nah. Hopefully Marketing can come up with something snappier.)

To turn your lemons into yellow gold, you'll need to tweak the recipe, buy enough (but not too many) supplies, decide whether to spend money on advertising, choose a location, add staff if necessary, buy upgrades when prudent, and so on.

Bad weather can keep customers away in droves. Plan accordingly!

In other words, it's like running a business. Once you've made all your decisions for the day, you get to see your stand in real-time action. (This is cute at first, but eventually you'll just want to skip ahead to the results, which you can do with a single tap.)

Make no mistake: Lemonade Tycoon is no walk in the park. It really does challenge your business skills, as variables like the weather and customer disposition always affect the outcome. EA's presentation is perfect: cute, simple, and entertaining. It's fun for all ages. (Well, all ages that can read.)

Best of all, you won't have to invest any of the funds from your real-world lemonade stand: Lemonade Tycoon is free. That's quite a surprise coming from EA, but definitely a welcome one.