If tepid reviews for Apple’s new HomePod smart speaker weren’t bad enough, the company has a new issue to deal with: furniture damage. Two publications have found that the HomePod can leave persistent white rings on wooden furniture, a problem apparently traceable to interactions between the speaker’s silicone base and treated wood. An Apple spokesperson has confirmed the issue and suggsted a partial remedy.
According to Pocket-Lint, twenty minutes of HomePod use on a “solid oak kitchen worktop treated with Danish oil” was enough to cause a white ring-shaped discoloration that has faded somewhat over time but not disappeared. The New York Times‘ Wirecutter similarly reported a “defined white ring in the surface” of an oiled butcher-block countertop and a wooden side table, pointing to a Twitter post suggesting similar problems.
Apple confirmed the issue to Wirecutter, saying that “the marks can improve over several days after the speaker is removed from the wood surface.” If they don’t disappear, Apple suggests to “try cleaning the surface with the manufacturer’s suggested oiling method.” It’s unclear at this point whether the issue is limited to oiled wood surfaces, and whether the interaction between the speaker and surface will also lead to damage in the HomePod’s rubber base.
The issue manifested within days of HomePod’s release, despite a reported six years of development time and special testing in everything from Apple employee homes to soundproofed chambers. HomePod notably includes an upward-firing woofer that may be rubbing the center of the base into greater contact with the surface below with each pulse of low-frequency music. The white ring interestingly appears on wood even when the HomePod is space gray with a gray rubber base, rather than white.