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A workplace study shows MacBook keyboard failure rate of 30 percent

30 percent of 47 Basecamp staff with MacBooks are experiencing keyboard issues. (Source: DHH)
30 percent of 47 Basecamp staff with MacBooks are experiencing keyboard issues. (Source: DHH)
Another scathing article has been penned by a well-respected member of the Apple community on Apple's malfunctioning keyboards. David Heinemeier Hansson, a software developer, claims that the failure rate of Apple's butterfly mechanism based keyboards is much higher than Apple is willing to admit or may even be aware.

Well-respected Danish programmer and creator of the Ruby on Rails web development framework, David Heinemeier Hansson, has written a scathing article on Apple’s controversial butterfly-mechanism based MacBooks. Fitted to MacBooks shipping since 2015, Apple claims its custom-designed and patented mechanism was created to deliver “four times more key stability than a traditional scissor mechanism, along with greater comfort.” Even if any of Apple’s claims about the mechanism are true (and users question even these), they are notoriously unreliable with all three generations of the design prone to keys getting stuck, failing to respond intermittently, or failing altogether.

To date, Apple claims the numbers of users affected by failures with all three generations of the butterfly mechanism design are relatively small in number. However, Hansson, who is currently a partner at web-based software development firm Basecamp begs to differ, particularly after undertaking a survey of 47 staff using MacBooks at the company. Of these, Hansson found that 30 percent were dealing with keyboard issues currently. This includes six our thirteen who are using MacBooks fitted with the third-generation design that includes a thin membrane aimed at stopping debris from interfering with the mechanism.

Added to this “anecdata” (as he calls his strictly non-scientific approach) includes a Twitter poll that he ran in conjunction with his post on the issue. Of the 1,590 votes cast at the time of writing this article, 50 percent indicated they hard an issue with their MacBook keyboards, but were living with it, while another 11 percent indicated that they returned their device to have the keyboard fixed. Hansson’s argument is that there are many people living with MacBook keyboard woes that Apple hasn’t included in its data because not everyone is returning their device to Apple for repairs.

Either way, Apple has created a massive PR nightmare for itself with a keyboard redesign driven largely by its obsession with creating ultrathin design, not borne out of any specific user complaints or needs. Apple’s high-profile AirPower debacle came about for similar reasons. It promised Apple customers a charging mat that could charge three devices simultaneously, while also being both ultrathin and compact. This is something that, embarrassingly, Apple was forced to admit it simply couldn’t deliver.

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Apple is still advertising the MacBook butterfly keyboard as a feature. (Source: Apple)
Apple is still advertising the MacBook butterfly keyboard as a feature. (Source: Apple)
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2019 04 > A workplace study shows MacBook keyboard failure rate of 30 percent
Sanjiv Sathiah, 2019-04- 2 (Update: 2019-04- 2)
Sanjiv Sathiah
Sanjiv Sathiah - News Editor
I have been tech-obsessed from the time my father introduced me to my first computer, an Apple ][. Since then, I have grown to enjoy exploring and experimenting with any computing platform that I can get my hands on – I am the definitive early adopter! I have always been interested in how we can use technology to shape and improve our lives, most recently using it to record, mix and master my debut record, Acuity – Nature | Nurture out now on Spotify.