Apple failed to test HomePod properly, say experts

Smart speaker’s wood-staining base could be ‘easily corrected in manufacturing’ 

WWDC 2017 Apple HomePod
The HomePod speaker would be subjected to the tariffs
(Image credit: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

Apple’s new HomePod smart speaker came under fire from fans last week for leaving white rings on wooden surfaces - and now industrial design experts are taking aim.

Speaking to Business Insider, product designer Ignazio Moresco said the Cupertino-based company “didn't test the product enough and in the right variety of circumstances”, resulting in the HomePod’s wood-staining silicone base being overlooked.

“They should have caught the issue if they followed a rigorous QA [quality assurance] process,” says Moresco.

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Gregor Berkowitz, a product development consultant, told the news website that traditional hi-fi companies understand the potential problems of silicone feet on wooden furniture - whereas Apple is inexperienced in the market.

The fault with the HomePod’s silicone base should be simple to rectify, said industrial designer Cesar Viramontes, requiring only “minor” changes on the production line.

“I think it’s probably going to be one that'll be corrected in the next round of manufacturing,” Viramontes told Business Insider.

In the meantime, HomePod owners are advised to place their smart speaker on a stand to prevent marks on furniture, says 9to5Mac.

Third parties are already producing accessories for the HomePod’s silicone base, adds MacRumors, including a leather coaster from Pad & Quill.

HomePod users find speaker stains wooden surfaces

15 February

Apple’s recently-launched HomePod smart speaker may be a hit with the critics, but several users have found the device leaves ugly white marks on their wooden furniture.

An image posted by The Verge’s Casey Newton on Twitter shows a pair of white circles on a wooden table that was reportedly caused by the rubber ring underneath the smart speaker.

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According to Pocket-Lint, the HomePod can discolour wooden surfaces “within 20 minutes”, although the marks may fade a few days later.

The issue appears to occur on surfaces “treated with Danish oil”, the website says. There were no signs of discolouration when the site placed the speaker on a “regular lacquered desk.”

Responding to the reports, Apple says it’s “not unusual” for any speaker with a vibration-damping silicone base to leave “mild marks” when placed on some wooden surfaces.

The tech giant adds that the marks should disappear “after several days” or after they’ve been wiped with a cloth. Apple recommends placing the speaker on a different surface.

Wirecutter says the issue “really undermines the design aspect of the HomePod” as many buyers will want to display the smart speaker on a “prized piece of furniture.”

The tech site says that one of the device’s major rivals, the Sonos One, doesn’t leave marks on polished wood, even after “months of use”.

Some have seen the funny side of the wood-staining speaker. Several Twitter users have joked that Apple could use the issue to sell customers additional products, such as “HomePod Socks” and coasters.

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