The HomePod wasn’t available for long before some owners started noticing that it can leave a white ring on some types of wood.
Industrial designers have said that it’s surprising that Apple didn’t catch the issue during testing, but the good news is that it shouldn’t be hard for the company to resolve …
Business Insider quizzed a number of industrial designers about the issue, with one of them saying that it was something Apple should have researched as it’s an issue speaker manufacturers have long had to address.
Gregor Berkowitz, a product development consultant for various consumer electronics brands, [said that] manufacturers of speakers or other stationary products understand the complexities of silicone on wood. Oils leave wood porous, while varnish seals it shut, and a product that sits on a shelf needs to account for both environments.
“This is sitting on a bookshelf. Is it going to work? Or are there going to be problems? A traditional consumer product company or a speaker company or a traditional Hi-Fi company is going to worry about that and think about those problems and have experience with it,” Berkowitz said. “This shouldn’t be new for Apple but it is.”
Another expressed surprise that Apple hadn’t done sufficient testing.
“They didn’t test the product enough and in the right variety of circumstances, especially considering that a wood surface is a very likely support for the product,” said Ignazio Moresco, a product design expert who has worked at frog design, Microsoft and Ericsson.
But several designers told BI that Apple ought to be able to make a relatively small change to its manufacturing process to eliminate the problem.
“Apple may need to ‘re-tool’ the manufacturing process since silicone is manufactured using a different process than the other kinds of elastomer,” said Berkowitz. If that’s necessary, the process could take anywhere from two weeks to six weeks, he noted.
Apple has so far said only that the issue is not unusual for vibration-dampening silicone, a view seemingly backed by photos of the Sonos One suffering from the same problem. In our own survey, about 18% of owners who use the HomePod on wood have experienced the issue.
For existing owners, the best advice seems to be to place the speaker on a coaster or stand, with Pad & Quill quick to offer a leather coaster. I haven’t experienced the issue in my own testing, but had our handyman make a simple wooden stand for it – something audiophiles say can help with the sound quality too.