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It's Official: Apple's Butterfly Keyboard Is Dead

By Evan Niu, CFA – May 5, 2020 at 10:00AM

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It won't be missed.

Nearly six months after introducing the 16-inch MacBook Pro, Apple (AAPL -2.54%) has now completed its transition back to scissor-switch keyboards. The company this week refreshed the 13-inch MacBook Pro, ditching the beleaguered butterfly switch keyboard and adding a Magic Keyboard alongside spec bumps like optional Intel 10th-generation processor upgrades and more storage and faster memory.

Apple had added the Magic Keyboard to the MacBook Air in March, so the new update represents the final nail in the butterfly keyboard's coffin.

13-inch MacBook Pro

The refreshed 13-inch MacBook Pro. Image source: Apple.

R.I.P., butterfly keyboard

It's been just over five years since Apple introduced the butterfly keyboard in the 12-inch 2015 MacBook, and the keyboard has been plagued with complaints about reliability and usability ever since. The tech giant proceeded to transition all of its laptops to the new mechanism while trying to address those complaints with at least three iterations of minor design tweaks, none of which succeeded in fixing the problems.

In its never-ending quest for thin and light gadgets, Apple stubbornly kept trying to fix the keyboard instead of acknowledging the design flaw earlier. Better late than never.

Remote work is driving demand for PCs

Armed with a refreshed lineup, Apple is now prepared to meet the increase in PC demand that COVID-19 is creating as companies and workers continue shifting to remote work. Broadly speaking, PCs and PC peripherals that are used for remote work (webcams, printers, networking gear, etc.) are seeing a spike in demand, market researcher Canalys said last month. The PC supply chain had been temporarily crippled at the onset of the outbreak but has largely recovered.

"During a quarter where circumstances evolve by the hour, we have been gratified by the resilience and adaptability of our global supply chain," Apple CEO Tim Cook said last week. "While we felt some temporary supply constraints in February, our operations team, suppliers and manufacturing partners have been safely returning to work and production was back at typical levels toward the end of March."

The Mac and iPad segments both saw revenue decline in the first quarter, but those product categories are expected to bounce back in Q2 due to the aforementioned shift to remote work and learning, according to CFO Luca Maestri. Many prominent enterprise customers like IBM, SAP, and Peloton are accelerating remote Mac deployments during the pandemic, Maestri said.

At the same time, Apple has been increasingly positioning the iPad as a laptop replacement for creative professionals, most notably with the recent addition of trackpad and cursor support, as well as a new Magic Keyboard accessory. The company also refreshed the iPad Pro when it updated the MacBook Air in March.

"On iPhone and Wearables, we expect the year-over-year revenue performance to worsen in the June quarter relative to the March quarter," Maestri stated. "On iPad and Mac, we expect the year-over-year revenue performance to improve in the June quarter."

Evan Niu, CFA owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple and Peloton Interactive. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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