Apple admits your HomePod might stain wooden surfaces

Apple has acknowledged a number of complaints from users who say their HomePod speakers are leaving white rings on wooden surfaces, admitting that "it is not unusual for any speaker with a vibration-dampening silicone base to leave mild marks when placed on some wooden surfaces".

Numerous reviews and users on Twitter have been pointing out the major flaw in Apple's new smart speaker, which is apparently caused by oils diffusing between the silicone base and the surface of the Apple. The marks should be able to be cleaned off and will fade gradually anyway, the brand says.

In the meantime, the official advice? "If you’re concerned about this, we recommend placing your HomePod on a different surface," says Apple – or maybe just get a stand (although that can possibly lower the quality of the stand). 

The company is taking flack for not warning customers in advance that the HomePod and wood was a bad mix, so future buyers might want to think about where to place it.

We had our speaker on a wooden surface in our testing, but it was a thinner (well, cheaper) wood, and found no example of the staining... but it seems that more porous, expensive veneers are those in danger.

Profit margins

In the meantime, analyst firm TechInsights reckons the internal components of the HomePod cost Apple $216 to make, putting its profit margins per speaker at $149 before the cost of advertising and engineering and everything else gets factored out.

It's less of a profit margin than many of other products Apple makes, including the iPhone X

TechInsights also calculates that it's narrower than the profit margins Amazon and Google make on the Amazon Echo and Google Home – though of course these are all rough estimations from an external company.

Pricey as the HomePod might be – especially for a speaker that marks your furniture – it seems Apple is prepared to take a bit of a hit on the price in return for getting the Siri-powered speaker into as many homes as possible.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.