Apple is in trouble due to the butterfly keyboards

Kerem Gülen
May 29, 2023

In July 2020, a significant development unfolded in the ongoing legal battle involving Apple as a US federal court delivered its ultimate approval for a $50 million class-action settlement. This resolution effectively put to rest the accusations levied against Apple, asserting that the tech giant had deliberately concealed the inherent instability of the "butterfly" keyboards installed in various MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro models produced between the years 2015 and 2019.

The honorable Judge Edward Davila, presiding over the case, passed a verdict on Thursday, endorsing the settlement as "fair, adequate, and reasonable." This ruling served as a decisive milestone in addressing the concerns and grievances raised by numerous consumers affected by the malfunctioning keyboards.

As an outcome of the approved settlement, individuals who experienced the distress caused by the flawed keyboards in their MacBook devices will be entitled to receive compensatory amounts varying from $50 to $395. This financial restitution is a crucial component of the settlement agreement, aiming to address the grievances of affected MacBook users. It is worth mentioning that a remarkable number of 86,000 claims seeking compensation were submitted by class members before the March deadline, highlighting the significance and scale of the issue.

The problem dates back to 2015

The genesis of the problematic "butterfly" keyboard dates back to its introduction by Apple in 2015, initially debuting in the 12-inch MacBook model. This innovative keyboard mechanism was championed by Jony Ive, the former head of design at Apple, who envisioned it as a solution that would enable the company to create slimmer laptops without compromising stability or the typing experience. However, as more Apple computers incorporated the butterfly keyboard design, users began to realize its vulnerability to minute particles of dust, dirt, and debris, leading to significant operational issues and frustrations.

During the period spanning from 2015 to 2019, Apple's line of laptops incorporated a butterfly keyboard that, regrettably, proved to be vulnerable to malfunctioning even under typical usage conditions. The accumulation of seemingly innocuous elements like dust, grime, or even small food particles could lead to keys becoming unresponsive or completely stuck, rendering the keyboard inoperable. Consequently, users affected by these persistent issues felt compelled to initiate legal action against the tech giant.

Image source: Unsplash

In a significant turning point, Apple introduced the 16-inch MacBook Pro in late 2019, implementing a return to a more traditional "scissor switch" keyboard design. This move came after Apple engineers diligently made various adjustments and enhancements aimed at augmenting the keyboard's overall durability and reliability.

It is noteworthy to mention that as part of the settlement agreement, Apple is not obliged to admit any wrongdoing or misconduct. While the settlement aims to address the concerns and provide compensation to affected individuals, Apple does not bear the obligation of formally acknowledging any fault in the matter.

In a development that sparked opposition within the class action lawsuit, a proposed payment of $125 for a specific group of claimants was met with resistance. However, their appeal to alter the payment amount was ultimately denied by the judge overseeing the case. As a result, the initial settlement terms, including the $125 payment, remained unchanged.


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