Apple is fixing busted MacBook keyboards for free, which is going to cost them money. This all could have been avoided if the keyboard were easy to repair or replace.

As laptops become thinner repairability is compromised. Apple’s MacBook and MacBook Pro are prime examples, and the keyboard issues show why this is a problem.

Here’s Kyle Wiens, writing for iFixIt:

You can’t switch key caps. And it gets worse. The keyboard itself can’t simply be swapped out. You can’t even swap out the upper case containing the keyboard on its own. You also have to replace the glued-in battery, trackpad, and speakers at the same time. For Apple’s service team, the entire upper half of the laptop is a single component. That’s why Apple has been charging through the nose and taking forever on these repairs. And that’s why it’s such a big deal—for customers and for shareholders—that Apple is extending the warranty. It’s a damned expensive way to dust a laptop.

It’s a terrible series of design choices, and it’s one that’s costing them money. Apple also can’t expect to sell $2,000+ laptops with keyboards that are constantly breaking, which is why ultimately had no choice but to offer the free repairs. Wiens continues:

Apple’s profit on every machine that they warranty under this new program has been decimated. There is a real business impact caused by unrepairable product design. Samsung recently had a similar experience with the Note7. Yes, the battery problem was a manufacturing defect. But if the battery had been easy to replace, they could have recalled just the batteries instead of the entire phone. It was a $5 billion design mistake.

Repairability is treated as a niche concern by a broader tech press obsessed with tiny bezels and thin frames. That should change. The entire article outlines this point very nicely; you should check it out.

Justin Pot Justin Pot
Justin Pot has been writing about technology for over a decade, with work appearing in Digital Trends, The Next Web, Lifehacker, MakeUseOf, and the Zapier Blog. He also runs the Hillsboro Signal, a volunteer-driven local news outlet he founded.
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