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Learning the Way of the Snow Leopard

By John P. Mello Jr. MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Nov 23, 2009 4:00 AM PT

While hoary Mac users might prefer to familiarize themselves with the latest version of Apple's OS X operating system, Snow Leopard, through intuitive fumbling, less experienced ones may prefer the more formal approach released earlier this month by Class On Demand.

Learning the Way of the Snow Leopard

The company has introduced a new training DVD-ROM, Basic Training for Mac OS X Snow Leopard (US$39.95), that covers a variety of new features found in the operating system from its desktop, dock and Time Machine to Spaces, iChat and Boot Camp 3.0, Apple's application for running Microsoft Windows on a Mac.

"This product isn't for seasoned Apple veterans," Class On Demand CEO Paul Holtz explained to MacNewsWorld. "It's really designed for people who want to learn the latest advances very quickly instead of fumbling their way through the product.

"A good training product can also be a good demo," he added. "A lot of people don't know some of the new programs exist because they just use the programs they use every day that they've used for years."

Many of the buyers of Class On Demand's training products are not only new to Snow Leopard, but to Macs, too. "From the feedback and the emails that we've gotten, about half of them are people who have migrated from Windows over to Apple," Holtz estimated.

Success Tied to Teachers

Just under two hours of training is included on the disc, which is organized into 13 lessons anchored by Tom Wolsky. Wolsky has authored five books on Final Cut, Apple's professional video editing software; developed a video journalism curriculum for Apple computers; and is on the board of directors for the Digital Media Academy, a national operator of summer computer camps and provider of training in digital media applications.

"Our Apple products have been quite successful," Holtz opined. "I think one of the reasons is we use pretty well-known instructors on the Apple side of things."

Burned to a DVD-ROM, the training disc is designed to run on a personal computer rather than a television set. "DVD-ROMs have a much higher resolution than you could possibly do on a television," Holtz explained. "When you start getting down to one- and two-point fonts in the interface, you'd never be able see those on a television."

An added benefit of producing the training on DVD-ROM is that it makes it easier to stream the content from the Web, which Class on Demand will offer at its home site shortly.

Appeal of Convenience

Although some training similar to that offered by Class on Demand can be obtained at Apple's retail stores, Holtz asserted that convenience is a big selling point for his company's offerings. "Our year-on-year revenues have been growing at 50 percent over the past few years," he observed. "The reason for that is that a lot people don't have the time or money to take on-site classes.

"People want the convenience of training in their home at their own pace," he added.

What's more, the economy appears to have a favorable impact on the training business, too. "A lot of people have lost their jobs, and they want to learn new skill sets or brush up on old skill sets," Holtz explained.

Facing Off With Apple

As many developers have learned, operating in the Apple universe can be an uncertain proposition because one never knows when one may be in a face off for market share with one's benefactor. "Apple's going to get more involved in training themselves," Scott Testa a professor of business administration at Cabrini College in Philadelphia told to MacNewsWorld.

"They're going to start wrapping around training more and more with the retail experience," he continued. "You're going to see stores that are larger and have a larger training component in them."

"They see training as a business that's complementary to the rest of the things they're doing," he added. "An educated customer is generally a better customer. The more educated your customers are in your products, the less chance you have of losing them."

"That's not going to make trainers happy," he declared, "but the market is so large that Apple could in no way satisfy the whole demand in it."

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