Judge certifies class action lawsuit against Apple over butterfly keyboard

A U.S. judge has certified a class action suit against Apple over the company’s butterfly keyboard design. The suit covers anyone who purchased a MacBook model between 2015 and 2017, a MacBook Pro model between 2016 and 2019, or a MacBook Air between 2018 and 2019 with a butterfly keyboard in California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, an Washington.

Apple's "butterfly" keyboard
Apple’s “butterfly” keyboard

Adi Robertson for The Verge:

The butterfly keyboard was slimmer than Apple’s previous design, which used industry-standard scissor switches. But many disgruntled MacBook users found that Apple’s revamped keyboard failed when even tiny particles of dust accumulated around the switches. That resulted in keys that felt “sticky,” failed to register keypresses, or registered multiple presses with a single hit. Apple tweaked its butterfly keyboard multiple times, but after continued complaints, it abandoned the switches in 2020.

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 plaintiffs accuse Apple of violating several laws across the seven states mentioned above, including California’s Unfair Competition Law, the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, and the Michigan Consumer Protection Act. They aren’t asking for a nationwide certification at this time, but the law firm behind the suit has invited any US buyer of an affected MacBook to complete a survey.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s new Magic Keyboard, which replaces the company’s butterfly mechanism fiasco, is about 0.5mm thicker than the butterfly keyboard models.

We’ve had to endure years of inferior keyboards in order to shave off half a millimeter about which no one not named Jony gave a rat’s ass.MacDailyNews, April 2, 2019

Hey, Jony: Enough with the thin. Everything is thin enough. Sometimes too thin. Thinner isn’t the answer to everything, nor is thinness intrinsic to good design. We’d gladly take a bit more robustness and battery life over more unnecessary thinness, thanks.MacDailyNews, June 25, 2018

The law of diminishing returns can also be applied to industrial design. Apple’s eternal quest for thinness eventually runs into issues such as bulging camera assemblies, battery capacity, strength (breakability), etc. – is Apple’s quest for thinness now bordering on the quixotic? So, is it “you can never be too thin” or is it “thin enough is thin enough?”MacDailyNews, December 21, 2015

The law firm Girard Sharp LLP’s free, confidential online survey for those affected by Apple’s butterfly keyboard design is here.

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