Reliable supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of TF International Securities has published a new report focused squarely on Apple keyboards. Kuo lays out an updated timeline for when he believes Apple will begin using more reliable keyboards in MacBooks.
Butterfly to scissor switch
Kuo’s latest research for investors shares a fuller timeline for when we should expect each MacBook model to transition from the current butterfly switch keyboard to the more reliable scissor switch keyboard.
According to Kuo, each MacBook refresh in 2020 will include a change from the problematic keyboard design from recent years to the tried and trusted scissor switch keyboard design from older MacBooks.
Apple’s return to scissor switch keyboards will start this fall with the rumored 16-inch MacBook Pro that Kuo continues to predict will debut.
This is a shift from Kuo’s earlier prediction that Apple would start the transition with a refreshed MacBook Air this fall, followed by changes to the MacBook Pro line next year.
Apple released a slightly updated MacBook Air and new entry-level MacBook Pros (with butterfly keyboards) alongside its Back to School promotion.
MacBook Air plus 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros will rely on butterfly keyboards through 2019 (bless their heart), then each revision to MacBook Air and MacBook Pro in 2020 will include a switch from butterflies to scissors.
This will presumably also end the recent pattern of each new MacBook introduced being included in Apple’s four-year keyboard replacement program from day one. After introducing the program for the original 12-inch MacBook from 2015 and each new MacBook introduced since, Apple has automatically included new MacBooks in the program despite touting revisions to the butterfly keyboard design.
Apple’s desktop keyboards have remained on reliable scissor switches throughout the butterfly era.
Smart Keyboard adoption
Kuo also predicts that Apple’s other keyboard, the iPad Smart Keyboard, will be adopted by more users over time thanks in part to iPadOS 13.
Apple is introducing a number of changes to the iPad software that make it more competitive for customers replacing Windows laptops and older notebooks, and Kuo believes manufacturers of Apple’s dome covered keys will benefit.
Kuo predicts Smart Keyboard sales will reach 2 million this year and double to 4 million in 2020 followed by a jump to 7 million across 2021.
Apple’s Smart Keyboard is currently compatible with the latest iPad Air and all iPad Pros.