Hi, thanks for your message. I did go to the Apple store, showed the tech guys the same pictures I posted here. They said it's logic board/graphic card failure (I hope I understood them correctly). I told them about this thread and the one on the apple.com website. They said they never heard about this issue with early 2011 models. The funny thing was they said, well you know people say all different kind of stuff on forums
No matter what, there will always be a small percentage of laptops whose GPUs fail because of solder ball failure. Keeping that number low is certainly a goal, but it is impossible to make the number be zero, given the temperature extremes involved. Assuming Apple has maintained the 70/30 laptop/desktop split that they've talked about in the past, then Apple sold somewhere around 12 million laptops in FY2011. 1,000 failures is less than one hundredth of one percent. If the failure rate really is at that order of magnitude, I wouldn't expect any sort of recall, because it's likely a fluke caused by inconsistent manufacturing.
With that said, assuming everyone who signed that petition is, in fact, an affected customer, then a thousand signatures is somewhat alarming. For every person who complains about a problem with a company, statistically speaking, there are usually anywhere from 10–100 affected people who didn't complain, with the average being about a 25:1 ratio. So 1,000 signatures could really mean that there are on the order of 25,000 affected 2011 MacBook Pro laptops that failed just outside of warranty, which is a different story altogether.
So, I paid $310 to get the new logic board + 8gb RAM, although they said it usually costs ~$500-600. I didn't really care as I'm covered with Squaretrade warranty. I picked up the laptop today, so far it's working fine.
For folks who don't have any warranty, the good news is that Apple recalls tend to be retroactive, so if it isn't a fluke, you'll probably get that money back.