Fender’s guitars are classic Americana – like a 57 Chevy or a pan of Jiffy Pop. From a design perspective, they didn’t change much since the early/mid 50s, with the Stratocaster and Telecaster serving as the company’s biggest sellers. Just like what people said – they’re solid, they’re well built, they are iconic. Innovative, not so much.
Over the past few years, however, the company has been dipping its toes in the waters of new categories, first with its in-ear monitors and then its first mobile app. The new products are a step beyond the guitars and amps that have long formed the basis of the company’s business – but not too far. The monitors, after all, are built for stage performances and engineered by some of the same people who build the company’s amps. And Fender’s first mobile app is a tuner – a must have for any budding guitar player.
And that’s the audience the company is looking to break through to here. As CEO Andy Mooney points out in a recent interview with Bloomberg, while around half of Fender’s customers are first time players, somewhere around 90 percent abandon the instrument within the first year. So, naturally, the company is turning toward tech. That means more mobile apps – including one that will let guitar players play along to the songs in their library and another that emulates the tones of well-known players. Both will be designed to work with a Bluetooth amplifier due out next year – a product that will, hopefully, form a bit of a bridge between Fender’s standard offerings and digital strategy, utilizing apps on a mobile device as a way of interacting with the music and altering the sound.