Butterfly defect stripped from MacBook Pros, Airs by Q2 2020, reckons Apple analyst

Hated keyboard to be replaced with ye olde scissor switch in new models

22 Reg comments Got Tips?

We're in the twilight of the lifecycle of the loathed butterfly keyboard, according to famed Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a recent investment note, Kuo said Apple would release new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models with conventional scissor keyboards by Q2 2020.

It's not a huge surprise. Last year, Apple released the 16-inch MacBook Pro, which, in addition to a slightly bigger screen, came with a normal scissor switch keyboard. This addition was a critical success, and it was only a matter of time until Apple followed suit with their cheaper machines.

For those who use Apple's laptops as their daily driver, this will undoubtedly come as a relief. First introduced in 2015, the butterfly keyboard has been nothing short of a disaster, not least for Apple, which was once famed for its intuitive and refined industrial design.

The butterfly keyboard was conceived as a way to continue shrinking the profile of Apple's laptops. However, due to their small profile, it's all too easy for keys to become jammed with dust and debris, preventing key presses entirely, or causing multiple presses of the same character.

Later iterations of the butterfly keyboard were modified to address the problem, with the third and fourth generation coming with a rubber membrane that was supposed to catch dust. However, users found they remained stubbornly fault-prone.

Compounding the problem is the fact that the keys themselves are extremely challenging to repair, thanks to the extremely thin and delicate nature of the mechanism.

It also didn't help that the butterfly keyboard is miserable to type on. Because the keys have a shallow profile, there's hardly any travel, giving the feeling of fruitlessly slapping a piece of glass. They're also notably loud – which, admittedly, is less of a problem since Apple introduced the rubber membrane in 2018.

Although initially reluctant to admit there was a problem, Apple introduced a keyboard replacement programme in 2018 as bad press and consumer ill will mounted. This allowed punters to switch out their busted keyboards with new ones, provided the issue was raised four years after the first retail sale of the unit.

Per Kuo's note, obtained by Mac Rumors, supply chain issues caused by the outbreak of COVID-19 will begin to ease towards the end of the month, allowing Apple to ramp up mass production of its new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models.

And to that, this correspondent wishes the butterfly keyboard a heartfelt farewell. Yu wn't, wn't.. arrrgh .. WON'T be missed. ®

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