Seth Godin writes how Alarm Clocks are deprived of features and intelligent design because everyone involved in the business of Alarm Clocks aren’t hired to make it better, rather they’re hired to sell it.
Here’s my idea for a superior alarm clock:
Display the time in words like Art Lebedev’s Verbarius (displayed). Take hints from Verbarius’ design - sleek, black, like a jewel. You should be proud to have it on your nightstand, but it shouldn’t attract much attention when you enter the room. It’s an alarm clock, not a 1952 Jaguar Roadster.
Add a light-sensor: dim the brightness when dark, so it doesn’t to hurt your eyes when you wake up at 3am.
Use high quality audio components. No one likes waking up to static-ridden audio. You want the best listening experience that fits in the tight package. Just an AM/FM tuner, too. No MP3 player functionality, no CD-player. Yes, it’s fun to wake up to something of your own choosing. It gets less fun after waking up for the tenth time to the same song. Adding it would force your users to upload new songs every week. Don’t add stereo controls: it’s an alarm clock. You want the least amount of buttons.
Automatically update time and date using radio-transmission. Allow the user to disable any alarms (or set different ones) on weekends. Add a “holiday”-switch: disable all alarms. Disabling alarms doesn’t make it forget what time it’s set at.
Add touch-sensitivity to the casing of the clock as the “shut the fuck up”-button. The lesser you need to search for it while morning-drunk the better. Make sure the touch-sensor works in any possible bed-circumstance. Test it with a used condom thrown on it. If you’re buying an expensive alarm clock, you don’t want to wonder if it’ll wake you up in the morning just because you had a fantastic, drunk night.
Add a feature to turn off the next alarm clock. Useful if you wake up 5 minutes before the actual alarm goes off, or for the night before a random day off. Possible method: tap the casing twice (“doubletap to skip one”). Add Unskip.
Use the touch-sensitive screen for settings. Yes, this will scare away grandmas and grandpas. They’re not our target market. Make the menus huge - don’t force the user to squint. I don’t have any statistics on near-sightedness, but if I had to pull one out of my ass, I’d say 50% would suffer from small text 50cm away.
Market it as the best alarm clock ever. Price it as the best alarm clock ever. You don’t want people to think it’s an alternative to those cheap alarm clocks you get free with your magazine subscription. You want people to think the cheap alarm clocks aren’t worthy of being on your nightstand, doing the most honourful job of waking you up in the morning. Use a name people will associate with good ol’ German/Swiss quality, like “Das Klock”.
Give supreme warranty - 10 years at a minimum. Make a tiny, portable version, with the ability to sync alarms with its big brother. Don’t segment - why would anyone buy anything less than Das Klock, the best alarm clock ever?
And then go bankrupt because no one wants to buy a €400 alarm clock without a Hello Kitty on it. It doesn’t even play MP3’s, gasp!