Keyboard in 2018 MacBook Pro will not be used for repair of earlier models

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited July 2018
Apple's third-generation butterfly switch keyboard will only be used on the 2018 MacBook Pro, with owners of earlier models unable to get the updated keyboard as a replacement under the company's service programs or as part of a repair.




The 2018 MacBook Pro keyboard, claimed by Apple to be quieter than the second and first-generation butterfly switch designs used in the 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro and MacBook releases, won't be offered to owners of earlier models if they are brought into an Apple Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider for servicing.

Confirmed by AppleInsider sources within Apple corporate not authorized to speak on behalf of the company, the earlier MacBook Pro units will receive the same keyboard design as they already have, not the new version. At this time, only the 2018 MacBook Pro will receive the new design if maintenance is required.

It is unclear why the keyboards cannot be updated, but it is likely the rest of the "upper case" that the keyboard is attached to has some changes in the 2018 version that makes it incompatible with earlier models.

There have been a number of cases where the butterfly key mechanism has caused keyboard issues for the 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro, as well as the MacBook, including repeated characters, unresponsive keys, and other similar issues. The problems prompted Apple to launch a keyboard service program for the issue, with affected users able to receive free servicing on their notebooks.

The new keyboard is touted as being quieter while typing, likely in part due to the addition of a silicone membrane surrounding each butterfly mechanism. It is plausible the membrane could help prevent dust and debris from interfering with the mechanism, with the lower volume potentially being a side effect of its inclusion.

The membrane is not a perfect seal, however. There are gaps to allow the keycap to connect to the keyboard, and a larger one in the center of the cap.

Other than the membrane, there does not appear to be any changes made to the mechanism itself. It remains to be seen if the issues from the 2016 and less in the 2017 models will continue to manifest at the same rate, or if the membrane can prevent them from happening.

The exclusivity of the new keyboard was first reported by MacRumors, but with later confirmation by AppleInsider's own sources.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,006member
    Would be somewhat better but still not a complete new keyboard design to address all the complains
  • Reply 2 of 25
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,763member
    This is going to cause an unBELIEVABLE nut-kicking wodge of hurt around here. 

    edited July 2018 lamboaudi4
  • Reply 3 of 25
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,763member
    wood1208 said:
    Would be somewhat better but still not a complete new keyboard design to address all the complains
    Nope. Folk would just complain about something else. 

    Nothing Apple has ever done has ever addressed all the complaints; I don’t think they should bankrupt themselves trying. 
    edited July 2018 lamboaudi4racerhomie3revenant
  • Reply 4 of 25
    nunzynunzy Posts: 662member
    This is not a big deal. Apple said that only a tiny percentage of MacBook have a problem.
    racerhomie3aylkaylk
  • Reply 5 of 25
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,189member
    If John Gruber’s rumor is correct and the issue was a bad metal alloy with one of the parts I’m guessing that is something Apple could fix within the existing keyboard as it’s not a redesign but just a parts replacement.  Bottom line is nobody but Apple knows the cause of the defect or how widespread it is. And it’s certainly not in Apple’s interest to knowingly replace defective keyboards with another one that is just as defective. But it does Apple no favors to be so cagey about this even if it is for legal reasons. People just want to know their replacement fixed the problem and isn’t going to break down again.
    StrangeDaysdewmedws-2
  • Reply 6 of 25
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 4,180member
    We'll have to wait for a teardown if Apple is not forthcoming on the changes. If this third generation keyboard can be replaced more easily than the previous two generations, and as a result, can't be swapped into earlier models, I think most people would accept it.

    If it can fit earlier models but Apple isn't allowing it, I think people will feel rightly petplexed.
    FatmanFatman
  • Reply 7 of 25
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,540member
    avon b7 said:
    We'll have to wait for a teardown if Apple is not forthcoming on the changes. If this third generation keyboard can be replaced more easily than the previous two generations, and as a result, can't be swapped into earlier models, I think most people would accept it.

    If it can fit earlier models but Apple isn't allowing it, I think people will feel rightly petplexed.
    Again, you’re making assumptions you’re in no position to make. Apple said the new keyboard is improved for sound and never said reliability. Gruber’s source suggested the problem was bad metal from a previous supplier, and has been remedied. If so, there’s no reason to give customers of an older model a new feature (quieter keyboard) from a newer model. If it was indeed the bad alloy then they get the fixed alloy. 
    edited July 2018 fastasleep
  • Reply 8 of 25
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,189member
    avon b7 said:
    We'll have to wait for a teardown if Apple is not forthcoming on the changes. If this third generation keyboard can be replaced more easily than the previous two generations, and as a result, can't be swapped into earlier models, I think most people would accept it.

    If it can fit earlier models but Apple isn't allowing it, I think people will feel rightly petplexed.
    Again, you’re making assumptions you’re in no position to make. Apple said the new keyboard is improved for sound and never said reliability. Gruber’s source suggested the problem was bad metal from a previous supplier, and has been remedied. If so, there’s no reason to give customers of an older model a new feature (quieter keyboard) from a newer model. If it was indeed the bad alloy then they get the fixed alloy. 
    But Apple was granted a patent for this silicon cover and the patent application specifically mentions keeping out debris, not making the keyboard quieter. Seems like the latter is just a side effect that Apple has chosen to focus on. Anyway if someone is getting their keyboard replaced all they want reassurance on is that it won’t malfunction again (for the same reason). I don’t know why it’s so difficult for Apple to be clear on this.
    edited July 2018 MplsPcaladaniangatorguy
  • Reply 9 of 25
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 4,180member
    avon b7 said:
    We'll have to wait for a teardown if Apple is not forthcoming on the changes. If this third generation keyboard can be replaced more easily than the previous two generations, and as a result, can't be swapped into earlier models, I think most people would accept it.

    If it can fit earlier models but Apple isn't allowing it, I think people will feel rightly petplexed.
    Again, you’re making assumptions you’re in no position to make. Apple said the new keyboard is improved for sound and never said reliability. Gruber’s source suggested the problem was bad metal from a previous supplier, and has been remedied. If so, there’s no reason to give customers of an older model a new feature (quieter keyboard) from a newer model. If it was indeed the bad alloy then they get the fixed alloy. 
    Everybody is in a position to make assumptions. Not sure why you think otherwise. You yourself are making an assumption: that Gruber is right!

    If the new part is 100% compatible with affected models and is actually better, why not retire the old part!

    This is Apple after all.

    Perhaps it would be nice if Apple just came out and said, 'we had a quality control issue that has been remedied'.

    Can you think of a reason why that hasn't happened yet?

    Don't worry, I'll just know you'll reply with "it's not for me to think of the reasons".


    gatorguyaylk
  • Reply 10 of 25
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,763member
    avon b7 said:
    We'll have to wait for a teardown if Apple is not forthcoming on the changes. If this third generation keyboard can be replaced more easily than the previous two generations, and as a result, can't be swapped into earlier models, I think most people would accept it.

    If it can fit earlier models but Apple isn't allowing it, I think people will feel rightly petplexed.
    Again, you’re making assumptions you’re in no position to make. Apple said the new keyboard is improved for sound and never said reliability. Gruber’s source suggested the problem was bad metal from a previous supplier, and has been remedied. If so, there’s no reason to give customers of an older model a new feature (quieter keyboard) from a newer model. If it was indeed the bad alloy then they get the fixed alloy. 
    But Apple was granted a patent for this silicon cover and the patent application specifically mentions keeping out debris, not making the keyboard quieter. Seems like the latter is just a side effect that Apple has chosen to focus on. Anyway if someone is getting their keyboard replaced all they want reassurance on is that it won’t malfunction again (for the same reason). I don’t know why it’s so difficult for Apple to be clear on this.

    Which bit haven't they been clear about?

    Is it a widespread problem? They said no.
    Is the silicon membrane for keeping dust out? They said no, it's to fix the problem with the key noise.
    Will you be using the new keyboard to fix the older model laptops. They said no, because no manufacturer is going to replace your keyboard because you happen to think it's too noisy. 

    The problem isn't them being unclear; the problem is that you choose not to believe them, which you're free to do, but that's not the same as being unclear. 

    Now lots of people have come up with the theory that Apple is being cagey because they're afraid of a class action.

    Let's just parse that for a moment:

    Apple
    is
    afraid
    of
    a
    class action.

    Whut?

    This company has about ten class actions and legal cases running against it at any one time. It has fought the government, Samsung, Qualcomm, Microsoft, the EU and just about everybody else.

    Last year, they held their hands up (God knows why, folk should learn to read) concerning the throttling of the phone to prevent it from shutting down, and they did that even though they know that every slimy lawyer would crawl from the sewer to get a piece. They admitted that Maps wasn't up to par even though they knew that it was highly likely someone would sue them for … well … something.

    They have faced legal action time and time again over the product that forms the backbone of their revenue stream, so I find it a little odd that they would be afraid of a lawsuit over a product line that, let's face it, is not their main bread and butter.

    Only thing to do here is wait for the teardown on the new keyboard and see what's what. If they have put silicon in there, then that's fishy; if it looks exactly the same except the composition of the frame is different, then Gruber is right: a manufacturing partner used metal that wasn't up to spec.

    If they replace them and they break again with the same problem, then we'll soon know about it.
    edited July 2018 bestkeptsecret
  • Reply 11 of 25
    croprcropr Posts: 960member
    nunzy said:
    This is not a big deal. Apple said that only a tiny percentage of MacBook have a problem.
    It would not be a big deal if Apple had chosen for a design where the keyboard is an independent module.  The fact that everything is glued together has its drawbacks.   In my company I have one MBP with the issue and that is one too much.  The turn around time of keyboard repair was quite long because my local Apple service point could not repair the issue. Even if the repair is free of charge, the loss in productivity is quite costly in a business environment.
    edited July 2018 aylknunzy
  • Reply 12 of 25
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 4,180member
    Rayz2016 said:
    avon b7 said:
    We'll have to wait for a teardown if Apple is not forthcoming on the changes. If this third generation keyboard can be replaced more easily than the previous two generations, and as a result, can't be swapped into earlier models, I think most people would accept it.

    If it can fit earlier models but Apple isn't allowing it, I think people will feel rightly petplexed.
    Again, you’re making assumptions you’re in no position to make. Apple said the new keyboard is improved for sound and never said reliability. Gruber’s source suggested the problem was bad metal from a previous supplier, and has been remedied. If so, there’s no reason to give customers of an older model a new feature (quieter keyboard) from a newer model. If it was indeed the bad alloy then they get the fixed alloy. 
    But Apple was granted a patent for this silicon cover and the patent application specifically mentions keeping out debris, not making the keyboard quieter. Seems like the latter is just a side effect that Apple has chosen to focus on. Anyway if someone is getting their keyboard replaced all they want reassurance on is that it won’t malfunction again (for the same reason). I don’t know why it’s so difficult for Apple to be clear on this.

    Which bit haven't they been clear about?

    Is it a widespread problem? They said no.
    Is the silicon membrane for keeping dust out? They said no, it's to fix the problem with the key noise.
    Will you be using the new keyboard to fix the older model laptops. They said no, because no manufacturer is going to replace your keyboard because you happen to think it's too noisy. 

    The problem isn't them being unclear; the problem is that you choose not to believe them, which you're free to do, but that's not the same as being unclear. 

    Now lots of people have come up with the theory that Apple is being cagey because they're afraid of a class action.

    Let's just parse that for a moment:

    Apple
    is
    afraid
    of
    a
    class action.

    Whut?

    This company has about ten class actions and legal cases running against it at any one time. It has fought the government, Samsung, Qualcomm, Microsoft, the EU and just about everybody else.

    Last year, they held their hands up (God knows why, folk should learn to read) concerning the throttling of the phone to prevent it from shutting down, and they did that even though they know that every slimy lawyer would crawl from the sewer to get a piece. They admitted that Maps wasn't up to par even though they knew that it was highly likely someone would sue them for … well … something.

    They have faced legal action time and time again over the product that forms the backbone of their revenue stream, so I find it a little odd that they would be afraid of a lawsuit over a product line that, let's face it, is not their main bread and butter.

    Only thing to do here is wait for the teardown on the new keyboard and see what's what. If they have put silicon in there, then that's fishy; if it looks exactly the same except the composition of the frame is different, then Gruber is right: a manufacturing partner used metal that wasn't up to spec.

    If they replace them and they break again with the same problem, then we'll soon know about it.
    They haven't been clear about what the cause of the problem actually is.

    If Gruber is right, something has gone horribly wrong. Apple sets tolerances and composition requirements. Suppliers constantly carry out checks to make sure batches meet those requirements. There can always be problems even with these checks but we're talking about coverage for every butterfly keyboard ever made. Not some batches. Also, Apple has said only a small percentage of keyboards will be affected. Are we to suppose that this small percentage cannot be traced?

    Right now, and in spite of what Apple says, everything points to a design problem. Not least because if what Gruber suspects were true, all Apple has to do is say exactly that and leave everyone reassured that the replacement keyboards do not have the same issues as the ones they are replacing.
    aylk
  • Reply 13 of 25
    dewmedewme Posts: 2,151member
    avon b7 said:
    avon b7 said:
    We'll have to wait for a teardown if Apple is not forthcoming on the changes. If this third generation keyboard can be replaced more easily than the previous two generations, and as a result, can't be swapped into earlier models, I think most people would accept it.

    If it can fit earlier models but Apple isn't allowing it, I think people will feel rightly petplexed.
    Again, you’re making assumptions you’re in no position to make. Apple said the new keyboard is improved for sound and never said reliability. Gruber’s source suggested the problem was bad metal from a previous supplier, and has been remedied. If so, there’s no reason to give customers of an older model a new feature (quieter keyboard) from a newer model. If it was indeed the bad alloy then they get the fixed alloy. 
    Everybody is in a position to make assumptions. Not sure why you think otherwise. You yourself are making an assumption: that Gruber is right!

    If the new part is 100% compatible with affected models and is actually better, why not retire the old part!

    This is Apple after all.

    Perhaps it would be nice if Apple just came out and said, 'we had a quality control issue that has been remedied'.

    Can you think of a reason why that hasn't happened yet?

    Don't worry, I'll just know you'll reply with "it's not for me to think of the reasons".


    There are likely many reasons why Apple hasn't stepped forward and announced a problem with the keyboards that would warrant a more drastic response like a product recall. Personally, I believe there is an underlying psychological effect in play that is driving some or even a great deal of the current negative narrative we see in blogs and online commentary. The effect is called Relative Judgement Theory, which basically boils down to people's judgements being rebased or recalibrated relative to previous observations and judgements rather than always judging something against an absolute standard.

    In all likelihood Apple has assigned a numerical threshold to determine whether a product that is seeing failures in-service requires a deep dive forensic quality review and/or consideration of remedial and corrective actions like product recalls or part replacement. In fact, Apple's recurring language about "very low numbers" leads me to believe that the observed failure rates are well below the absolute threshold that they have assigned to the part in question. I'd also bet that the absolute numbers that they've applied are at least as good or better than industry norms and are based on sound reliability engineering principles and practice. If Apple came up with reliability estimates that were not realistic based on the reliability of underlying components they'd be doing a great disservice to their customers. In other words, Apple's absolute judgement numbers are deterministic and not pulled out of thin air or their butt.

    The problem here could be that those who are critical of Apple's operational behaviors have assigned their own and more rigid and lower failure rate threshold than what Apple has assigned. Why would they do this? Perhaps they hold Apple to a higher standard than what Apple holds itself to - for whatever reasons, including lack of knowledge, unrealistic expectations, or personal experience with other Apple products. Apple's reactions to previous quality issues that were also below Apple's quality thresholds but were still addressed by Apple also come into play, like the iPhone 4 antenna nothingburger. When Apple caved on the antenna nonissue and gave away free bumpers they also recalibrated many people's relative judgement of what constitutes an issue that requires action by Apple.

    This theory has nothing to do with whether or not there is a quality issue with the keyboards in question. What it does warn us about is what happens when customer's expectations result in the goalposts constantly being moved further and further away and continuously narrowed down. When does "very low failure numbers" become unacceptable and "any failure" substituted? Yes, everyone wants zero failures and perfect quality, i.e., absolute perfection. But there's a cost to be paid for the pursuit of absolute perfection, whether with products or with people. The law of diminishing return tells us that the pursuit of absolute perfection will ultimately drain your resources and leave you forever miserable. 
    tmayfastasleep
  • Reply 14 of 25
    retrogustoretrogusto Posts: 737member
    I kind of doubt the claim that it’s not a widespread problem. I had my late-2016 touch-bar MBP for less than a year before the keyboard started acting up, and my problem sounds just like what others have been reporting. And maybe you don’t consider it a big deal if you’re not personally affected by it, but maybe you’ll feel differently if your next laptop costs $2400+ and starts to have a similarly annoying issue after a few months of very light use. 

    Like many companies, Apple knows how to make a reliable keyboard, but if they want to push the envelope for weight and thinness, they need to make sure the product will still get the job done. There are almost no moving parts left on these things now, so it makes a lot of sense to double-down on keyboard reliability. 

    aylkmike54
  • Reply 15 of 25
    I was in the Apple Store (in the Toronto Eaton Centre) two days ago looking at the MacBook which I've been thinking would be an incredible mobile laptop.  The "B" key wasn't working on the keyboard.  I was astonished.  1) because Apple's "only affects a minority of customers" claim fell so obviously flat in the face of that they can't even get their floor model keyboards to work 2) how much this made me question trusting Apple's products knowing they can't even get a keyboard right.   Should customers paying premium prices have to think about key travel, key noise and key functioning?  Shouldn't we just be typing away oblivious to all of this?  My MacBook Pro gets so hot the keys get uncomfortably warm.  Never experience this on my Thinkpad.  Starting to think I HAVE been drinking the cool-aid.  I have invested so much into the Apple ecosystem It pains me to be finding the Surface Pro looking better and better all the time. 
    mike54
  • Reply 16 of 25
    zimmermannzimmermann Posts: 222member
    JustinTO said:
    I was in the Apple Store (in the Toronto Eaton Centre) two days ago looking at the MacBook which I've been thinking would be an incredible mobile laptop.  The "B" key wasn't working on the keyboard.  I was astonished.  1) because Apple's "only affects a minority of customers" claim fell so obviously flat in the face of that they can't even get their floor model keyboards to work 2) how much this made me question trusting Apple's products knowing they can't even get a keyboard right.   Should customers paying premium prices have to think about key travel, key noise and key functioning?  Shouldn't we just be typing away oblivious to all of this?  My MacBook Pro gets so hot the keys get uncomfortably warm.  Never experience this on my Thinkpad.  Starting to think I HAVE been drinking the cool-aid.  I have invested so much into the Apple ecosystem It pains me to be finding the Surface Pro looking better and better all the time. 
    Well Justin, I have been reading much more unhappy stuff about the Surface Pro. So, go ahead, get one, and inform us of your experiences. Please!
  • Reply 17 of 25
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,647member
    avon b7 said:
    We'll have to wait for a teardown if Apple is not forthcoming on the changes. If this third generation keyboard can be replaced more easily than the previous two generations, and as a result, can't be swapped into earlier models, I think most people would accept it.

    If it can fit earlier models but Apple isn't allowing it, I think people will feel rightly petplexed.
    Again, you’re making assumptions you’re in no position to make. Apple said the new keyboard is improved for sound and never said reliability. Gruber’s source suggested the problem was bad metal from a previous supplier, and has been remedied. If so, there’s no reason to give customers of an older model a new feature (quieter keyboard) from a newer model. If it was indeed the bad alloy then they get the fixed alloy. 
    But Apple was granted a patent for this silicon cover and the patent application specifically mentions keeping out debris, not making the keyboard quieter. Seems like the latter is just a side effect that Apple has chosen to focus on. Anyway if someone is getting their keyboard replaced all they want reassurance on is that it won’t malfunction again (for the same reason). I don’t know why it’s so difficult for Apple to be clear on this.
    Exactly. The problem people are having is that things don't add up.
    • Previous keyboards had an issue with high failure rates that seem to be associated with debris
    • Apple doesn't admit a design issue but implements a replacement program
    • There are some reports of a bad allow causing problems with the previous keyboard design.
    • Apple files a patent for an updated keyboard design with a silicone insert stating that it makes the keyboard more resistant to debris
    • Apple implements the new keyboard in the new MacBook models touting quieter action but making no mention of debris
    • Demonstrations surface showing that the new keyboard is indeed more resistant to debris
    I think it's a given that Apple would/will not admit that there's a design flaw in the old keyboard, even if one existed. Not only does that go against their previous history of dealing with issues like these, but it would also potentially open them up to liability. Apple is not unique here; the majority of companies would follow the same protocol, so you can't criticize Apple on this point, but the fact that they implemented a replacement problem is a pretty good indicator that they thought there was a problem. 

    So at this point, there are two likely scenarios - either there was a manufacturing defect with the alloy or a design defect allowing the intrusion of debris. From the available evidence, the latter seems to be the more likely.
    aylk
  • Reply 18 of 25
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 4,870administrator
    MplsP said:
    avon b7 said:
    We'll have to wait for a teardown if Apple is not forthcoming on the changes. If this third generation keyboard can be replaced more easily than the previous two generations, and as a result, can't be swapped into earlier models, I think most people would accept it.

    If it can fit earlier models but Apple isn't allowing it, I think people will feel rightly petplexed.
    Again, you’re making assumptions you’re in no position to make. Apple said the new keyboard is improved for sound and never said reliability. Gruber’s source suggested the problem was bad metal from a previous supplier, and has been remedied. If so, there’s no reason to give customers of an older model a new feature (quieter keyboard) from a newer model. If it was indeed the bad alloy then they get the fixed alloy. 
    But Apple was granted a patent for this silicon cover and the patent application specifically mentions keeping out debris, not making the keyboard quieter. Seems like the latter is just a side effect that Apple has chosen to focus on. Anyway if someone is getting their keyboard replaced all they want reassurance on is that it won’t malfunction again (for the same reason). I don’t know why it’s so difficult for Apple to be clear on this.
    Exactly. The problem people are having is that things don't add up.
    • Previous keyboards had an issue with high failure rates that seem to be associated with debris
    • Apple doesn't admit a design issue but implements a replacement program
    • There are some reports of a bad allow causing problems with the previous keyboard design.
    • Apple files a patent for an updated keyboard design with a silicone insert stating that it makes the keyboard more resistant to debris
    • Apple implements the new keyboard in the new MacBook models touting quieter action but making no mention of debris
    • Demonstrations surface showing that the new keyboard is indeed more resistant to debris
    I think it's a given that Apple would/will not admit that there's a design flaw in the old keyboard, even if one existed. Not only does that go against their previous history of dealing with issues like these, but it would also potentially open them up to liability. Apple is not unique here; the majority of companies would follow the same protocol, so you can't criticize Apple on this point, but the fact that they implemented a replacement problem is a pretty good indicator that they thought there was a problem. 

    So at this point, there are two likely scenarios - either there was a manufacturing defect with the alloy or a design defect allowing the intrusion of debris. From the available evidence, the latter seems to be the more likely.
    For the record, the patent was filed in 2015, before the 2016 even shipped.
    fastasleep
  • Reply 19 of 25
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,189member
    dewme said:
    avon b7 said:
    avon b7 said:
    We'll have to wait for a teardown if Apple is not forthcoming on the changes. If this third generation keyboard can be replaced more easily than the previous two generations, and as a result, can't be swapped into earlier models, I think most people would accept it.

    If it can fit earlier models but Apple isn't allowing it, I think people will feel rightly petplexed.
    Again, you’re making assumptions you’re in no position to make. Apple said the new keyboard is improved for sound and never said reliability. Gruber’s source suggested the problem was bad metal from a previous supplier, and has been remedied. If so, there’s no reason to give customers of an older model a new feature (quieter keyboard) from a newer model. If it was indeed the bad alloy then they get the fixed alloy. 
    Everybody is in a position to make assumptions. Not sure why you think otherwise. You yourself are making an assumption: that Gruber is right!

    If the new part is 100% compatible with affected models and is actually better, why not retire the old part!

    This is Apple after all.

    Perhaps it would be nice if Apple just came out and said, 'we had a quality control issue that has been remedied'.

    Can you think of a reason why that hasn't happened yet?

    Don't worry, I'll just know you'll reply with "it's not for me to think of the reasons".


    There are likely many reasons why Apple hasn't stepped forward and announced a problem with the keyboards that would warrant a more drastic response like a product recall. Personally, I believe there is an underlying psychological effect in play that is driving some or even a great deal of the current negative narrative we see in blogs and online commentary. The effect is called Relative Judgement Theory, which basically boils down to people's judgements being rebased or recalibrated relative to previous observations and judgements rather than always judging something against an absolute standard.

    In all likelihood Apple has assigned a numerical threshold to determine whether a product that is seeing failures in-service requires a deep dive forensic quality review and/or consideration of remedial and corrective actions like product recalls or part replacement. In fact, Apple's recurring language about "very low numbers" leads me to believe that the observed failure rates are well below the absolute threshold that they have assigned to the part in question. I'd also bet that the absolute numbers that they've applied are at least as good or better than industry norms and are based on sound reliability engineering principles and practice. If Apple came up with reliability estimates that were not realistic based on the reliability of underlying components they'd be doing a great disservice to their customers. In other words, Apple's absolute judgement numbers are deterministic and not pulled out of thin air or their butt.

    The problem here could be that those who are critical of Apple's operational behaviors have assigned their own and more rigid and lower failure rate threshold than what Apple has assigned. Why would they do this? Perhaps they hold Apple to a higher standard than what Apple holds itself to - for whatever reasons, including lack of knowledge, unrealistic expectations, or personal experience with other Apple products. Apple's reactions to previous quality issues that were also below Apple's quality thresholds but were still addressed by Apple also come into play, like the iPhone 4 antenna nothingburger. When Apple caved on the antenna nonissue and gave away free bumpers they also recalibrated many people's relative judgement of what constitutes an issue that requires action by Apple.

    This theory has nothing to do with whether or not there is a quality issue with the keyboards in question. What it does warn us about is what happens when customer's expectations result in the goalposts constantly being moved further and further away and continuously narrowed down. When does "very low failure numbers" become unacceptable and "any failure" substituted? Yes, everyone wants zero failures and perfect quality, i.e., absolute perfection. But there's a cost to be paid for the pursuit of absolute perfection, whether with products or with people. The law of diminishing return tells us that the pursuit of absolute perfection will ultimately drain your resources and leave you forever miserable. 
    Only Apple knows why some keyboards were failing. Only Apple knows how wide spread this problem is. Reading tech Twitter and rumor site message boards probably makes the problem seem worse than it actually is.
    tmay
  • Reply 20 of 25
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 4,189member
    MplsP said:
    avon b7 said:
    We'll have to wait for a teardown if Apple is not forthcoming on the changes. If this third generation keyboard can be replaced more easily than the previous two generations, and as a result, can't be swapped into earlier models, I think most people would accept it.

    If it can fit earlier models but Apple isn't allowing it, I think people will feel rightly petplexed.
    Again, you’re making assumptions you’re in no position to make. Apple said the new keyboard is improved for sound and never said reliability. Gruber’s source suggested the problem was bad metal from a previous supplier, and has been remedied. If so, there’s no reason to give customers of an older model a new feature (quieter keyboard) from a newer model. If it was indeed the bad alloy then they get the fixed alloy. 
    But Apple was granted a patent for this silicon cover and the patent application specifically mentions keeping out debris, not making the keyboard quieter. Seems like the latter is just a side effect that Apple has chosen to focus on. Anyway if someone is getting their keyboard replaced all they want reassurance on is that it won’t malfunction again (for the same reason). I don’t know why it’s so difficult for Apple to be clear on this.
    Exactly. The problem people are having is that things don't add up.
    • Previous keyboards had an issue with high failure rates that seem to be associated with debris
    • Apple doesn't admit a design issue but implements a replacement program
    • There are some reports of a bad allow causing problems with the previous keyboard design.
    • Apple files a patent for an updated keyboard design with a silicone insert stating that it makes the keyboard more resistant to debris
    • Apple implements the new keyboard in the new MacBook models touting quieter action but making no mention of debris
    • Demonstrations surface showing that the new keyboard is indeed more resistant to debris
    I think it's a given that Apple would/will not admit that there's a design flaw in the old keyboard, even if one existed. Not only does that go against their previous history of dealing with issues like these, but it would also potentially open them up to liability. Apple is not unique here; the majority of companies would follow the same protocol, so you can't criticize Apple on this point, but the fact that they implemented a replacement problem is a pretty good indicator that they thought there was a problem. 

    So at this point, there are two likely scenarios - either there was a manufacturing defect with the alloy or a design defect allowing the intrusion of debris. From the available evidence, the latter seems to be the more likely.
    For the record, the patent was filed in 2015, before the 2016 even shipped.
    Seems to me then this is more about continuous improvement of the keyboard than addressing a specific design defect (assuming one exists). I would also assume Apple has product roadmaps around how frequently products get new case designs so completely redoing the keyboard in the middle of a design cycle was probably never on the table so instead the existing keyboard is tweaked.
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