Apple has a problem that is as old as humanity. Perception vs. reality. Remember the new butterfly keyboard design in recent Mac notebook? That design enabled Apple to make the Mac thinner than ever and the keyboard was to carry the Mac into the future.
Butterfly-gate. Keyboard-gate. Mac notebook users started having problems with their butterfly keyboards. Letters would stick or disappear. The standard method to clean a keyboard– a few forced air blasts– didn’t work. Even worse, the cost to repair the keyboard often was half the price of a new Mac notebook.
What went wrong?
Since only Apple knows exactly how many and what percentage of Macs with butterfly keyboards fail, we have to pin the blame to a couple of areas. First, perception vs. reality. Second, Apple’s response to a rapidly growing public relations problem was anemic and slow.
Perception vs. reality?
Apple acknowledged a minor problem with some of the butterfly design keyboards but indicated only a small percentage of Mac customers were affected.
That supposedly small number was also a very loud group of Mac customers who had no trouble bringing their troubles to the public conscience. Think lawsuit class noise. Think hundreds of websites bashing Apple for a number of reasons, including, 1) the keyboard design was faulty, 2) the cost to repair was outrageously expensive, 3) the actual problem– dust and dirt– was easily fixed in past generations of Mac keyboards, but not those of the butterfly design.
Again, only Apple knows what percentage of Mac customers were affected by faulty or dirty keyboards, and that number could be far less than past Mac keyboards, but it did not matter.
Perception vs. reality can be a bitch to deal with sometimes.
Apple doubled down on the butterfly keyboard design with an improvement. Even that model had customer complaints for most of the same reasons. Apple tripled down on recent Mac notebooks with a third version of the butterfly keyboard design, and implemented a keyboard replacement program for affected Macs dating back a few years.
The public outcry and public relations nightmare was not one easily fixed, even if the number of actual problems with butterfly keyboards was half that of previous models. Apple did not jump on the issue quickly and the noise became deafening.
I suspect the butterfly keyboard design had fewer actually keyboard problems than previous designs, and improved with each iteration, but it didn’t matter because often perception is more visible than reality.