How not to build an app empire

I’m not an average mobile user. I use this thing for pretty much everything so when the opportunity to marry my alarm clock and my iPhone I jumped at the chance.

My choice was an iHome iA5 app-enhanced alarm clock speaker system. I bought mine back when it was over $100. Part of this system is an app that acts as the NOC for the device. While the software was buggy, iHome built in a necessary on-device alarm capability just in case the app crashed – I guess we aren’t quite there yet.

Aside from the ridiculous “tweet or Facebook when I sleep or wake” attempt at social media, the “leave a note for myself” feature that is supposed to replace the notepad beside your bed and the fact the sleep counter never really worked consistently, I got used to this combination. In fact, the software was fine and actually got better with every version.

It got better until the latest update

Like most of you out there, when you see an update option for your apps, you do it without thinking. I did for iHome and it was a huge mistake. Check that. The update they built was a total mistake.

How not to sleep with me

Once the update was done I lay down to fall asleep to Tech News Today but couldn’t find anywhere to program my alarm! In its place was a link to the appstore where I was prompted to download the iHome “set” app. The reason? To have one app that allowed you to set all your iHome powered devices.

So now I have to launch a second app to set an alarm that used to be a part of the actual iHome alarm clock app itself. Sound confusing? It is.

This is a perfect example of over thinking app development. Whoever made this decision certainly did not ask a single customer if this would be something we would want. The answer has been a unanimous and resounding no. Doing a quick search on the appstore shows the dismay and disgust the users have towards this change and I am one of them.

The solution is to go back to the past

Changing behaviour in humans is not easy so moving from a traditional clock radio to an iPhone powered equivalent is a huge change. iHome almost had me and once they got it right, I could see this type of thing happening in mainstream bedrooms – we already sleep within arms length of our devices, this is a natural progression. What they’ve just done takes a natural, seamless move and makes it complicated – something else we humans don’t like very much.

Dear iHome developers, we all make mistakes. Admit yours and go back to simpler times or risk losing any and all momentum you may have had.

About the author

Rob Woodbridge

I'm Rob, the founder of and I've spent 14 years immersed in the mobile and pervasive computing world. During this great time I've helped some of the most innovative companies grow their business through mobile. If you are in need of a mobile business advisor or coach, connect with me here to get things rolling.

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