To answer the last question first: the major risk was in entering a new territory. We have years of experience with Apple. We know their product consistency, and rely on it.
We had to put a dollar in the 'easy jar.' The decision made sense, but it wasn’t easy!
The MX Keys required a different geometry because of the back foot, and it took a lot of incremental iterations to get it just right. Ben 3D printed six different versions and tried seven rounds at the mill before nailing it.
Applying a current design language to a new product is often more difficult than designing from scratch.
We tweaked that angle again and again by fractions of an inch until it was perfect. Another not-so-tiny effort for a very tiny change.
SEAN KELLY (Lead Designer): The keyboard tray is fun and hard, because you have to sculpt something that exclusively houses that product, accentuating the dimensions that already exist.
So the three-sided frame was a path where function and beauty could meet, a contrast between wood and not-wood, frame and not-frame, that’s easy to use and easy on the eyes.