IoT strikes a chord with Fender

Fender's chief digital product officer Ethan Kaplan discusses the iconic guitar company's cloud computing and IoT ambitions.

Written by Folake Dosu
Published on Dec. 12, 2018
IoT strikes a chord with Fender

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Fender guitars might be known for making timeless music, but now the iconic company is keeping up with the times with a mobile strategy. Chief digital product officer and GM of digital at Fender Musical Instruments Corporation Ethan Kaplan detailed Fender’s plans during AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas, ZDNet reports.

One hurdle is nearly half of guitar players every year are picking up an axe for the first time and their lessons budget is quadruple that of the instrument spend itself, according to Kaplan.

"But here's the even bigger problem -- 90 percent will quit in the first six months, most within the first 90 days. There's an opportunity there," he revealed to the AWS re:Invent audience.

Nurturing amateur talent is now part of Fender’s business strategy.

"The 10 percent that make it through will buy 8-10 guitars in their lifetime, most of those will be Fender, so there's a huge opportunity for us to move that needle if we can just keep people playing."

For example, Fender shipped its first application Fender Tune two years ago to help new learners learn the important skill of tuning and now the app has been used by millions.

The success of their following app, Fender Tone, a remote control for digital amplifier Mustang, inspired them to launch Fender Play a year ago, their most ambitious app to date.

"We're revolutionizing how you can learn to play guitar," Kaplan continued.

Fender Play offers high quality lessons with the aim of engaging aspiring guitar heroes.

"Our aim was to make online learning app as good as the guitars we make, so unlike any video instruction -- if you've ever looked on YouTube ... this isn't a guy on a couch with a Go Pro with his cat walking in the background. It's tightly structured curriculum, 4K, high-quality studio shot video, and it has instructions for more than 500 songs," he said.

Kaplan describes the company’s plans to go serverless through AWS and its current use of 40 Amazon web services including AWS Lambda, Amazon DynamoDB, and Amazon API Gateway.

"It's not just online. Our factories are looking at using Internet of Things technologies to monitor humidity and guitar production, and SageMaker to improve our wood grain matching," he concluded.

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