Since being officially released last week, Apple’s $349 HomePod has earned rave reviews for packing excellent sound quality into such a small speaker. But the verdict on the rest of the HomePod’s features hasn’t been quite so enthusiastically good, and now a new problem with the design has emerged.
First highlighted by Pocket-Lint and The Wirecutter, and now confirmed in statements from Apple, it appears that the silicone base of the HomePod can leave a white ring on some wooden furniture, even if just placed there for a few minutes. The ring may fade over time and vanish completely, but some reviewers are saying it permanently damages the finish, forcing owners to sand and re-finish any affected furniture.
According to Apple’s statement to Pocket-Lint, the silicone base on the HomePod is to blame. “When questioned, Apple told us it was “not unusual” for a speaker with a silicone base to leave a “mild mark” when placed on certain oil or wax based wood finished surfaces, suggesting the marks are caused by oils diffusing between the silicone base and the table surface.,” Pocket-Lint said in its review.
Oil-based finishes are common on any wooden surface that’s expected to come into contact with food, like cutting blocks or butcher-block kitchen countertops. Wax-based finishes are more common on older antique furniture and are favored on some rarer kinds of exotic wood. Oil-based and wood-based finishes are not completely impervious to water, which would explain why oils from silicone might permeate the finish, leaving a ring. Silicone-based cleaning products like Pledge are known to leave a white film with long-term use, although unlike what Apple says, I can’t find any evidence of silicone gaskets causing damage to wooden furniture in the past. Speakers traditionally use rubber or plastic feet to prevent marring on furniture.
Only The Wirecutter and Pocket-Lint have spotted the problem so far, along with one lonely user on Twitter who saw a similar problem. In its write-up, The Wirecutter said that it tested the HomePod on other surfaces with no visible marks, including “glass, granite countertop, nice MDF, polyurethane-sealed wood, and cheap IKEA bookcases.”