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News   - 12/10/2006

Seniors tapping into iPod scene

Apple's iPod is becoming so popular with older listeners that some organizations will soon start holding iPod-specific training sessions for seniors.

And we mean seniors!

A spunky black silhouette dances wildly on a brightly colored backdrop, signature white iPod headphones dangling from the ears.

Apple uses the image to market its handheld music device, most recently on its iTunes holiday gift cards.

The campaign evokes an image of youth, but that hasn't stopped 78-year-old Sun City resident Betty Roberts from picking one up and jamming right along.

"There is a certain niche of seniors who love iPods," said Tom Kamber, executive director of the non-profit organization Older Adults Technology Services.

Kamber's organization gives seminars to integrate seniors with the newest consumer electronics. He said iPods have become so popular with the senior demographic that the group will offer iPod-specific sessions starting next year.

Seeing iPods pop up more and more in the exercise rooms of the West Valley's Sun Cities, directors at the Chez Nous in Sun City West may also add an iPod class to the adult center's list of programs, center spokeswoman Robin McCart-Brown said.

The Consumer Electronics Association estimates that roughly one in three adults owns a portable digital media device. Little research exists that breaks those adults down by age, industry analyst Sean Wargo said. Apple would not release any sales information, but Wargo said that he, too, has noticed the trend.

Existing numbers show that 50 percent of those 18 to 24 and 40 percent of those 25 to 34 own an MP3 player.

"The market penetration is high enough now that we are getting older consumers," Wargo said.

Roberts became interested in iPods when she saw podcasts increasingly advertised in newspapers and magazines. She started out by downloading podcasts and National Public Radio's Diane Rehm show. She later got into the music downloads and now jams to her favorite tunes from Joan Baez and Noel Coward on her morning neighborhood walk.

Kamber said his organization is increasingly tailoring its seminars to become more product specific. He said that he expects lesson categories to become even narrower as baby boomers, most already very techno-savvy, cross over into the senior category.

"In 10 to 15 years, we'll go from how do you use iPods to how do you talk through a video phone or transmit your blood pressure to a doctor from a device from home," he said.

Source: The Arizona Republic    
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