Yeah, so this is a bummer. Now that the HomePod is out in the wild, reports have started trickling in from users complaining about the $349 smart speaker’s unfortunate side effect on wood furniture. A quick trip to Twitter shows various sorts of HomePod-sized rings left on desks and table tops.
Apple has since confirmed the issue on its support page, noting, “It is not unusual for any speaker with a vibration-dampening silicone base to leave mild marks when placed on some wooden surfaces.”
The issue seems to be one of chemistry. “The marks can be caused by oils diffusing between the silicone base and the table surface, and will often go away after several days when the speaker is removed from the wooden surface.”
For what it’s worth, we didn’t run into the issue in our own testing, and the complaints appear to be pretty scattershot. But the averse interaction between wood and silicone is a known issue, as Apple handily points out. In fact, users have complained of similar issues with products like the Echo Dot.
#homepod left rings on my wood furniture in less than 20 minutes of use. Thanks #apple I am glad a paid $400 to make perfect etched circles on my more expensive furniture. Guess I can not move it now to cover up the mark. Evil geniuses you are. #applesupport pic.twitter.com/eZng16barS
— Guy San Francisco (@Guyinsf415) February 10, 2018
Of course, that’s all the more reason that this issue should have been addressed before the product hit the market. If the marks don’t go away, the company suggests, “wiping the surface gently with a soft damp or dry cloth may remove the marks. If marks persist, clean the surface with the furniture manufacturer’s recommended cleaning process.”
Beyond that, well, “if you’re concerned about this, we recommend placing your HomePod on a different surface.”
There are also plenty of handy tips on various woodworking forums if you’re among those who’ve run into the issue. Here’s a helpful page describing what can be done to counteract the damage. In some cases, it may require a refinish.
And, no joke, using something as a sort of large coaster or other bumper might not be a terrible idea, either. At least until Apple issues some kind of a fix here. If the issue does become widespread, perhaps we’ll see something akin to the iPhone 4 case program that arrived in the wake of Antennagate.