The real quality problem is they don't know which qualities are important any more
Drink splashes, crumbs and dust are completely mundane accompaniments of human life. Products made for humans should therefore be able to resist these everyday 'hazards' for the life of the product. That's a perfectly reasonable design criterion that Apple seems eager to ignore.
If they're going to charge such eye-watering amounts, the hardware has to be impeccable and robust. Why should I have to shout at my kid when they come near my Mac with a glass of juice? This is *such* a stupid and wholly avoidable design failure.
Apple build quality used to be very good, with a few 'hilarious' exceptions. Even the obviously flawed hockey-puck mouse was solidly built. It gathered crud, like all ball mice, but you could clean out the crud yourself without going to a "Genius Bar". And there was even a time when you could put your Apple keyboard in the dishwasher for a freshen-up with no ill effects.
Now Apple's hardware is worse than average because the cost *hasn't* gone down to match the various compromises that have crept in over the years. Most of those compromises seem to have to do with some kind of insane quest of diminishing returns based on a possibly imaginary market desire for 'thin' devices with minimal bezels. This is a desire that Apple's marketing department, and legions of fans has played no small role in whipping up. And it has had an almost wholly negative impact on build quality. I don't need thin. Thin is flimsy. Thin reminds me of cheap. I need solid, I need robust. Apple failed.
Most unforgivable of all is the lack of replaceable components in stuff labelled "pro". No surprise that the pro lines are struggling to stay relevant. Someone is being utterly stupid in this market, and it's not the buyers.
So yes, Apple has a quality problem, and apparently their PR department wants us to know that they know it. Bless.
But the real quality problem is that they don't seem to know or care which qualities *really* matter in high-end hardware: I venture three to start with: Reliability, longevity, flexibility⋆. Apple used to deliver in all three areas, and this formed the foundation for Apple's brand equity. Not any more.
So Apple, instead of relying on PR to reassure us that you're not actually slacking, despite appearances, why not just, you know, actually *improve the quality* in an obvious way? Spend a percentage point of your massive margins, for goodness' sake. Spend half a point. Dammit.
That way we can tell it's good by the simple mechanism of using it as intended, for extended periods, and maybe even let our kids sit on our laps with a glass of juice as we do so.
⋆granted, Apple's "flexibility" was mostly about ameliorating compatibility issues with the then-dominant Wintel ecosystem