Monday, March 22, 2021

Butterfly Keyboard Class Action Lawsuit

Juli Clover (tweet):

Apple customers unhappy with the butterfly keyboards used in MacBook models from 2015 on will be able to proceed with a lawsuit against the Cupertino company, as the judge overseeing the case has given it class action status [PDF]. The suit covers anyone who purchased a MacBook with a butterfly keyboard in California, New York, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, Washington, and Michigan.

Adi Robertson:

This suit claims Apple knew for years that its butterfly switches were defective — and that its incremental changes weren’t fixing the core problem. It cites internal communications inside Apple, including an executive who wrote that “no matter how much lipstick you try to put on this pig [referring to the butterfly keyboard]…it’s still ugly.”

See also: TidBITS.


Update (2021-03-23): Nick Heer:

A document (PDF) filed in this lawsuit in August last year suggests — if you read between the heavy redactions — that Apple was aware of its poorer performance as far back as June 2013[…] But I am more curious about why it took so long to address these glaring problems. Why did this seem, from an outsider’s perspective, to not be among the highest priorities in the company? Why not, after the first year, stick the guts of the newer MacBook Pro model into a revised version of the old case? The question for me is not as much why did Apple try this keyboard in the first place? as it is why did it continue selling Macs with this keyboard? — that, for me, is a greater concern.

See also: Hacker News.


Update (2021-11-15): Adi Robertson:

Sadly, I got the MacBook during Apple’s bad keyboard years, and I guess it couldn’t handle my typing volume and intensity. I’ve broken so many keys on butterfly keyboards that I gave up on getting them repaired and stacked a Bluetooth keyboard on my laptop with a cardboard separator.

4 Comments RSS · Twitter

I’m surprised it took so long, TBH.

"why did it continue selling Macs with this keyboard?" - probably because they wanted to recuperate R&D cost of the new keyboard mechanism before making any changes.

So glad I was able to squeak by and survive without needing to buy a laptop with the butterfly keyboards. It was indeed a horrific design that shouldn't have made it past that first machine. Hubris? Laziness? It's mystifying just how long that damn keyboard survived before being replaced.

I think part of it was also a long product pipeline — once they realized what they'd done, they needed time to finish thicker hardware designs.

But yes, two forms of hubris: the misguided idea that the keyboard is so great, the entire MacBook line-up should get it (rather than just the super-thin models), and the temporary wishful thinking that "it's not that bad".

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