Apple has not yet fully recovered from the PR nightmare that is the butterfly switches on the recent MacBooks. The company tried to address the issue with third generation switches by quietly adding a rubber membrane that kept dust out, however people are still reporting reliability issues. Apple issued a rare apology to those who have been affected.
“We are aware that a small number of users are having issues with their third-generation butterfly keyboard and for that we are sorry. The vast majority of Mac notebook customers are having a positive experience with the new keyboard.”
Apple's apology comes in response to a sad, yet hilarious column by Joanna Stern from The Wall Street Journal in which she types the entire article on her MacBook Air without using the 'E' and 'R' keys just to show how annoying the keyboard problems were. Fortunately, the article features switches to toggle on the missing letters for legibility.
Apple's butterfly switches were meant to make it easier to type while enabling the company to make MacBooks even slimmer. But the original design allowed dust and debris to get inside and jam the keys. Apple quietly addressed the problem by instituting a keyboard service program while getting slammed with three class action lawsuits.
Apple hardware products are usually associated with premium build quality and are generally very well received. The company loves to praise the tedious design process that it goes through (complete with a Jony Ive voiceover of course). However, it seems that Apple is putting form over function as of late with their laptops, sacrificing build quality for a sleek design.
Even Apple guru, John Gruber, blasted Apple for the lackluster keyboards. "I consider these keyboards the worst products in Apple history. MacBooks should have the best keyboards in the industry; instead they’re the worst. They’re doing lasting harm to the reputation of the MacBook brand."
While it is good that Apple acknowledged those who are still having problems, they keep downplaying the severity by limiting it to a "small number" of people. Given how expensive Macs are, Apple will need to totally redesign their keyboards if they are to gain back the trust of their most loyal customers.