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Apple isn’t the only company that has problems with speaker design

Apple HomePod vs Sonos One

Yesterday, we learned that Apple’s HomePod, a $349 smart speaker designed to fit in with your other luxurious home furnishings, leaves a white stain on some types of wooden surfaces. Apple admitted to the flaw straight away, suggested it wasn’t “unusual,” and suggested that anyone worried about their kitchen counters should put the HomePod on an “alternative surface.”

Despite what Apple might want you to believe, the vast majority of speakers on the market won’t mess up your wooden tables. Rubber feet, which are ubiquitous on most decent speakers sold in the last three decades, are safe to use on any surface you’ll find in the home, and don’t leech oil into any kind of material. But Apple is also right that it’s not the only product to use a silicone base that can damage surfaces, as Tom’s Guide discovered.

According to a reporter for the outlet, the Sonos One smart speaker that the HomePod directly competes with can cause a similar white ring if left on a wooden surface:

When I got home, I saw a large white ring, a telltale indication that the HomePod’s silicone base had messed up the finish. But, as I was inspecting the damage, I noticed a series of smaller white marks near where the HomePod was sitting.

A closer inspection revealed that the Sonos One speaker, which also has small silicone feet, had made these marks on my cabinet. Looking around the top of the cabinet, I noticed a bunch of little white marks, all left from the Sonos Ones as I moved them around. So, they will damage your wood furniture, too. We’re awaiting comment from Sonos.

A forum thread also reveals that the Amazon Echo Dot can leave a similar mark on some surfaces. It’s not clear yet if all three devices have the same problem: Apple says the HomePod’s silicone base can diffuse oil into wood finished with oil or wax; neither Amazon nor Sonos have confirmed the problem with their own devices.

There’s two ways to look at this. On the one hand, you can say that owners should be more careful with where they put smart speakers, and use a coaster or pad if they’re worried about damage to expensive furniture. On the other hand, you could say that it’s a poor and unnecessary material choice from manufacturers that wasn’t properly thought through, and of course it’s reasonable to expect that a home speaker should be safe to put on surfaces in your home.