Friday, October 4, 2019

Keyboards as Competitive Advantage

John Gruber:

Microsoft started yesterday’s event by banging the drum that they never have and never will compromise on the quality of their laptop keyboards — a clear and completely fair competitive dig at Apple. That’s the message they should have left the world with — that they, not Apple — now make the best laptop hardware in the world. Instead, they left everyone talking about two products that won’t be out for another year.

In less than six months, my wife’s Retina MacBook Air developed some keys that sometimes don’t type anything. This Mac has the third-generation butterfly keyboard. It’s never been used outside the home, isn’t used near food or sources of dust, and isn’t left open when not in use.

David Heinemeier Hansson:

“Went in for a keyboard replacement, they decided it needed a logic board. Got back home, it didn’t turn on, so back to the store. Apple replaced the entire machine because it’s had 3 major repairs in 12 months.”, employee just trying to get work done on a MacBook Pro. Disgrace.

This is just normal course of business at Basecamp. Every single month we have employees taking their machines back to Apple for the second, third, fourth, or fifth repairs of their broken MacBook Pro keyboards. Apple keeps claiming “small minority”. Bullshit.

Seriously, nothing has eroded my trust in Apple’s capacity as a computer maker as their inability to come clean on the utter catastrophe that is the butterfly keyboard design. If ever there was a worthy cause for a class-action lawsuit to take them to the cleaners.

Matt Anderson:

We are dealing with this at TaxJar weekly. We spend too much time shipping machines and buying loaners for those in remote areas far from Apple stores.

Per Henrik Lausten:

Picked up my MBP 2018 this morning from the 3rd repair in 3 months. Logic board replaced twice and battery replaced once. With each repair I’m without my primary work laptop for a week (oh, and replacing the logic board means all data on the SSD is lost)

Michael Hartl:

I’ve had mine fixed twice and completely replaced on a third occasion.

Mike Wilkerson:

As an Apple fanboy who’s all-in on the ecosystem, I used to dismiss this as overblown. After a keyboard replacement for my 2017 MBP last week, and the space bar on my 2018 MBP now acting up, confidence is shaken enough to look at alternatives. Definitely not a premium experience.

See also: Joanna Stern’s keyboard broke while she was writing her iPhone 11 reviews.


Update (2019-10-04): Daniel Jalkut:

Had my late-2016 MacBook Pro keyboard replaced again. It’s really impressive how fast Apple turns around mail-in repairs. I sure am glad I keep a spare (previous gen) MBP around as a backup. Maybe the 2016 will serve that purpose soon...

4 Comments RSS · Twitter

It's sad how Apple dropped the ball on hardware excellence on laptops - they used to be the best; my Powerbook G4 12" was replaced by a 2011 MacBook Air 11" and both were used on the side of football pitches etc as a working photographer for multiple years and neither ever had a keyboard issue. I still have the 2011 MacBook Air and it works perfectly.

Maybe it's inevitbale that when a company becomes so big that cracks in QC begin to appear.

But you have to wonder if the ongoing extra-thin / extra-unreliable keyboards issue and Jonny Ive's departure can really be seen as unrelated?

@Niall After 4.5 years, it’s got to be more than a QC problem.

I agree with @Michael. This is a self made, unnecessary design problem and since Apple is hell bent on proving it did nothing wrong, they have doubled, tripled, and quadrupled down on stupid.

Another advantage of some PC vendors: Sometimes the warranties can last 5 years with in-home or on-site repairs. Apple are very much behind the curve when it comes to warranty service/support.

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