Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Judge Certifies Class Action Lawsuit Against Apple for Butterfly Keyboards

Adi Robertson, the Verge:

A judge has certified a class action suit against Apple for its fragile butterfly keyboard design. The suit covers anyone who purchased an Apple MacBook with a butterfly keyboard in seven states: California, New York, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, Washington, and Michigan. That includes people who bought a MacBook model dating between 2015 and 2017, a MacBook Pro model between 2016 and 2019, or a MacBook Air between 2018 and 2019.


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.”

The question for me is not whether Apple knew that the switches had an increased predisposition to fail. A document (PDF) filed in this lawsuit in August last year suggests — if you read between the heavy redactions — that Apple was allegedly aware of its poorer performance as far back as June 2013, and Genius Bar reports in 2016 and 2017 suggested a failure rate twice that of its predecessor. I recognize this question is half of what this lawsuit is about, so I am interested to see what eventually comes out in the trial, but public evidence has long indicated that these keyboards are less reliable than those they replaced.

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.

I wonder how much of the Mac’s nosedive in resale value may be attributed to the butterfly keyboard. It has certainly dented Apple’s reputation for delivering premium quality hardware.