Last month, Apple began shipping its long-awaited HomePod audio device – a smart speaker that can stream music and at the same time listen for and respond to users’ commands. The HomePod, which leverages the voice and knowledge base of Apple’s Siri, is the company’s response to Amazon’s Echo, launched in June 2015 and featuring the voice-controlled, intelligent personal assistant service, Alexa, and Google’s Home, released in November 2016.
Apple has a strong track record of launching high-performance, feature-rich products at high price points. Based on the HomePod’s high-quality sound output, it has earned respect from audiophiles. Priced at $349 on apple.com, the HomePod commands a sizeable premium compared to Amazon’s Echo ($100) and Google Home ($129), even though it’s compatible only with other Apple devices that support the company’s proprietary AirPlay protocol. While it can be used with an Apple Music subscription, iTunes or an iCloud Music Library, the HomePod lacks Bluetooth support and wired audio jacks, for instance.
While compatibility limitations come as no surprise to followers of Apple – one of the world’s most valuable companies – what no one anticipated was a rash of consumer complaints owing to the fact the device can leave stain rings on wood countertops and tables that are regularly oiled in order to protect and preserve them, such as butcher block counters and tables.
On an Apple Support page, the company explains, “It is not unusual for any speaker with a vibration-damping silicone base to leave mild marks when placed on some wooden surfaces. 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. If not, 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. If you’re concerned about this, we recommend placing your HomePod on a different surface.”
One company whose leading product line is butcher block and plank style wood countertops – Butcher Block Co. – reports no consumer complaints to date but says it is well prepared to handle them. The company’s Marketing V.P., Kathleen Grodsky, says, “Butcher Block Co. has published a comprehensive guide for caring for and repairing wood countertops. That guide, which is available online, recommends that consumers first sprinkle baking soda or coarse salt on stains or light scratches, then massage the area using a damp sponge. It recommends using sandpaper for more stubborn stains and deeper scratches, then gently washing, drying and re-oiling the surface,” Grodsky adds.
This industry news update is presented by Butcher Block Co.
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