News Column

Apple Users Seek Learning Space in Palm Beach

Nov. 29, 2012

Doreen Hemlock, Sun Sentinel

Apple's stunning success is creating some new problems, a group of Apple equipment users in Palm Beach County has found.

Sales of the iPhone, iPad and other computing devices have soared so fast that classes at Apple stores fill up fast, and even non-profits can't keep up with demand to teach Apple functions and systems, according to the non-profit Palm Beach Phoenix Apple User Group.

The group's solution: gather signatures to support an Apple User Learning and Support Center in the county that would have space for classes, plus a cafeteria and other facilities to help sustain the venture. The new building would be the first of its kind, according to the petitioners at pbphoenix.org.

"We're looking for about 1,000 signatures, so that we can go to the cities and get donors," said J.G. Von Veltar, 65, president of the non-profit that has about 170 members, mostly senior citizens. "Even Apple could get involved and support it."

Calls to Apple for comment were not returned.

In its just-ended fiscal year, the California-based company topped $100 billion in sales for the first time, bounding past last year's $65 billion mark. Profits for last quarter alone were $6.6 billion, with help from record sales of Macs and iPads.

Veltar can attest to Apple's rise. He said he was an authorized service provider since 1983 in the Washington, D.C. area. Since moving to Palm Beach County, his non-profit users group has more than doubled in membership, and he estimates the county now hosts more than 280,000 Apple users.

The Phoenix group meets three times a month at a West Palm Beach fire station in a room that holds about 30 people. Von Veltar said he's found problems trying to get more space at universities, community centers or other buildings so he opted to gather support for the dedicated facility.

Shane Bennett, 29, an authorized Apple service provider at Palm Beach Mac Service company, backs the concept. He's part of the user group and envisions even a video-editing studio at the new building.

"Apple offers a few free classes, but you have to fight the crowds at the store," said Bennett. "And they give you the basics. You want that continuing education to get the most out of your device."



Source: (c)2012 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) Distributed by MCT Information Services


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