The Nikkei Electronic Teardown Squad recently tore down the MacBook Air. What did the team find? Surprises abound. Also, screws. Many, many screws.
The internal structure of the notebook seemed very expensive, with the keyboard requiring about 30 screws alone, for instance. One of the teardown engineers said, “The total number of screws in the MacBook Air was several times the number used in a PC we make.”
Why is this? Traditionally, if a manufacturing plant has a better way to assemble something, it’ll do so without alerting the company that designed the device. It appears that Apple may have insisted that its assembly instructions be followed to the letter. According to the Tech-On! web site…
“If I proposed such a design, our company would never approve it,” said one of the engineers. “I can’t find anything that is technically superior. We can make the same computer at a lower cost,” said another. Did the MacBook Air’s internal structure represent the immaturity of Apple’s design skill?
The engineers guessed one of the factors behind such a structure was the laptop’s manufacturing plant, which apparently did not give any technical feedback to Apple.
“When it comes to Japanese PC manufacturers, their manufacturing plants will complain or add their own technical efforts to lower cost, if a proposed structural design was insufficient,” one of the engineers said. “The MacBook Air gives me an impression that its manufacturing plant packaged the computer exactly as ordered by Apple.”