Apple to pay $50M to fix butterfly keyboard debacle

Years after Apple’s butterfly keyboards took off, the company looks set to make a deal.

Apple’s plan to pay $50 million to settle the class action has gotten preliminary approval from a federal judge, bringing the case one step closer to resolution.

It’s been a long time. The class action lawsuit involving the butterfly keyboard found on the MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro covers machines released between 2015 and 2016. The lawsuit began in 2018 and turned into a class action lawsuit in 2021, spanning California, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, Illinois, Washington, and New York.

Apple first agreed to the $50 million deal in July 2022. Now, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has moved the case forward, giving preliminary approval for the settlement. The order was signed by Judge Edward J. Davila. Apple will pay $50 million to settle the deal, as it has previously agreed to this — but not all of that money will go to class representatives.

According to MacRumors, $17 million will go toward attorney’s fees ($13.6 million), litigation costs ($2 million), and administrative costs ($1.4 million). The remaining funds will be distributed among class members. The final amount for each member will depend on the number of repairs that need to be made. MacRumors states that Mac owners who have to go through two or more top case changes will be paid up to $395.

There’s no denying that $50 million was a hefty sum to pay for a faulty keyboard, but Apple’s butterfly keyboard certainly had its problems. Thousands of people were dissatisfied with the keyboard, encountering issues like sticky keys and repetitive keys, not to mention just a little dust was enough for the key to fail completely.

Although Apple followed up on the complaints with a repair program in June 2018, the program only covered affected Macs for four years, and the replacement keyboard was still the butterfly keyboard – meaning many users were soon back where they started. Repeated keyboard replacements were out of scope and many Mac owners were unhappy, resulting in a class action lawsuit.

Ultimately, Apple tried three different ways to operate the butterfly mechanism, but they all failed. The company completely retired the keyboard and started using the scissor-switch keyboards that are still in use to this day.

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