After years of complaints from users, yesterday Apple officially acknowledged issues with its Butterfly keyboard design on MacBook and MacBook Pro models dating back to early 2015. The company introduced a new repair program, offering to fix faulty MacBook keyboards for free. It also said it is refunding customers who paid for similar repairs in the past.
The issue with the repair program, however, is that Apple is simply swapping the faulty keyboard for a keyboard with the same Butterfly design. That design is what is presumably leading to the issues many users are facing.
For that reason, it’s hard to view Apple’s repair program as a huge win for people who experience problems from the MacBook keyboard design. Instead, it feels a lot more like a band-aid that comes from a company reluctant to admit its faults, facing countless lawsuits on the matter…
What Apple said
In a statement to 9to5Mac, Apple said its service program covers “a small percentage of keyboards” that are plagued by issues including letters that repeat unexpectedly, sticky keys, and more:
“Today we launched a keyboard service program for our customers that covers a small percentage of keyboards in certain MacBook and MacBook Pro models which may exhibit one or more of the following behaviors: letters or characters that repeat unexpectedly or don’t appear when pressed or keys that feel “sticky” or aren’t responding in a consistent manner.”
One important thing to note here is that even when Apple says a problem affects a “small percentage of keyboards,” that could still be a very large number of people.
Reluctance to acknowledge the problem
On the surface, Apple’s statement makes it seem that it is just a bit reluctant to finally acknowledge the keyboard problem. The company has come under growing fire for the keyboard’s design recently, which has been found to fail at higher rates than past keyboard designs.
When it originally introduced the Butterfly keyboard, Apple touted the lower travel as part of the way it was able to achieve a slimmer design. In the public eye, Apple has a history of making controversial changes as it chases thinner and sleeker design, even if those changes turned out to be for the better in the long run. For many average users, the keyboard problems – and Apple’s acknowledgement of them – is just another example of that.
Of course, Apple’s response also only comes after it was hit with a slew of lawsuits over the problems. Here are some of them:
It’s likely that Apple hopes its new service program will ease the blow of these lawsuits. Whether or not that ultimately becomes the case is unclear, though.
Replacement with the same flaws?
Apple says that in most cases, keyboard repairs will be completed by replacing “one or more keys or the whole keyboard.” This means consumers will have their faulty keyboard replaced with one of the same design, equally as likely to fail. Apple says it will cover machines for four years after their purchase date.
I’m being critical here and it’s unrealistic to have expected Apple to introduce a brand new keyboard design through a service program. However, that’s not to say there weren’t improvements Apple could have made to the design.
For Apple, this can become a very expensive service program. If it continues to replace failing keyboards with ones that fail again, it could have to replace the keyboard multiple times for the same consumer. For consumers, having to get your keyboard replaced multiple times is not an ideal experience at all.
While the service program is good for public relations, it could end up being only worse for Apple and consumers in the long run.
The bright side
On the bright side, Apple finally has acknowledged issues with its latest keyboard design. Even if it was reluctant to do so and doesn’t have a new design to introduce yet, this likely serves as the strongest suggestion yet that Apple has a refreshed design in the works for future MacBooks and MacBook Pros.
Apple is rumored to have new Macs on the docket for later this year, and those could be our first look at the new keyboard design. Of course, getting that new keyboard will require you to spend the money on a completely new MacBook…
Change My View
So that’s my view on Apple’s service program for MacBook keyboard issues. While it’s nice to finally get a response from Apple on the issue, it’s hard to deny that it’s more of a band-aid solution than a real one.
Am I right in thinking this? Or I am being overly critical of Apple?
If you haven’t already read our Change My View guidelines, please do so before commenting. The tl;dr is to be respectful of opposing views, and argue calmly and rationally, avoiding personal attacks. Be open to being persuaded by what you read.
Over to you …
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