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White Ring Issue

Some Industrial Design Experts Say the HomePod White Ring Issue Can Easily be Fixed

February 19, 2018

Shortly after the introduction of the Apple HomePod earlier this month, a number of review outlets noticed that the smart speaker can leave marks on some types of wood furniture. But according to a number of industrial design experts quizzed by Business Insider, the HomePod white ring issue could be a relatively easy fix for Apple.

An example of the white rings left on some wood surfaces by the HomePod.

An example of the white rings left on some wood surfaces by the HomePod.

Credit: Wirecutter

Gregor Berkowitz, a product development consultant for consumer electronic brands, said that Apple could possibly “re-tool” the manufacturing process to correct the issue. That could take anywhere from two to six weeks.

“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.”

The issue isn’t specific to Apple as the Sonos One can leave the same type of marks on oil-finished wood. But one designer said the issue isn’t a good sign:

“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. “They should have caught the issue if they followed a rigorous QA process,” he said, referring to the quality assurance process that hardware makers put new products through to ensure that they are consumer-ready.

For its part, after the issue was first publicized, Apple published a new support document – Cleaning and taking care of HomePod. Apple notes that the silicone on the base of the speaker can “leave mild marks when placed on some wooden surfaces.”

More HomePod coverage