The world might finally wave goodbye to Apple’s controversial and much-hated MacBook butterfly keyboards by summer, according to a new report, published Thursday, by respected Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
In his latest research note, Kuo writes that Apple will launch new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models featuring the scissor switch keyboard design. Apple laid the groundwork for the return of the scissor switch Magic Keyboard when it ditched the butterfly keyboard for its 16-inch MacBook Pro upgrade late last year.
Kuo says that the new MacBook Air and MacBook Pro models will launch during the first half of the year. That would peg June as the latest that they might drop.
Presumably, this relies on the ability of Apple suppliers to build a sufficient number while dealing with the ongoing impact of coronavirus. A report published earlier this week notes that Compal Electronics and Wistron, two companies which make laptops for Apple, are getting back up to speed. Both hope to be able to resume “usual slow-season level” of production by the end of March. One issue facing them, however, is tight components supplies from component makers still running at reduced capacity.
Kuo seems confident, though. He notes that MacBook sales have been more resilient than other parts of Apple’s business. While supply was briefly impacted, he expects that Apple will start ordering parts at full capacity by the end of this month.
New laptops shipping by June would normally mean that they could be unveiled at Apple’s WWDC event. But with Santa Clara County’s ban on mass gatherings, it seems increasingly likely that WWDC may join the growing number of canceled conferences this summer.
The controversial MacBook butterfly switch
Apple first introduced its controversial butterfly keyboard design on the 2015 MacBook. The keyboard design uses less space beneath the keys compared to a regular scissor switch mechanism. This reduces the amount of travel on the keys. But the design also caused problems for Apple since it meant that the keys often stopped working when dust or other debris got trapped under them.
For the longest time, Apple didn’t acknowledge the backlash to the keys. Eventually it began to offer a Keyboard Service Program, fixing MacBooks with keyboard problems for free.
When Apple revealed that it was switching back to the scissor switch for its 16-inch MacBook Pro, Phil Schiller commented to CNET on the issue. “We had some quality issues we had to work on,” he said. “Over the years, we’ve been refining that keyboard design, and we’re now on the third generation, and a lot of people are much happier with that as we’ve advanced and advanced it.”
But he also commented on how pro users preferred the scissor switch mechanism. That seemed to seal the fate of the butterfly switch.