Pros&Cons SkyFonts

Alex KaczunAlex Kaczun Posts: 143
edited December 2013 in Type Business
Monotype will be enhancing how customers can preview and try fonts to help encourage more font sales using Monotype’s SkyFonts font delivery technology.

Are there any concerns we should have about this rollout?

November 20, 2013
Dear Valued Type Foundry Partner,
We are pleased to inform you of an important new feature we will be announcing soon to Fonts.com. It will give customers a new tool to evaluate and try out fonts before they make a purchase. Most importantly we believe this will lead to increased sales of your fonts.
The goal of this letter is to make sure you understand this exciting new feature and to allow you to opt-out of having your fonts enabled with this tool.
Existing “Try It” font preview tools
On Fonts.com and almost other font commerce websites there is a “try it before you buy it” feature. This lets the user select the point size, colors and enter their own text string. The fonts reside on the website server are used to generate an image preview of the font.
Figure 1 – example of the existing “Try It” feature on Fonts.com
While this approach is nice, it is very basic and has many limitations for customers. For example the current “Try It” tools prevents customers from seeing how the font looks in their page layout, for example a multi-column setting, or in the context with other fonts on the page or with a photographic background.
To address this situation Monotype has updated its SkyFonts font syncing tools to provide a more robust font testing and evaluation environment.
What is SkyFonts?
SkyFonts is a handy, lightweight utility that runs in the background of your Mac or PC and allows you to temporarily install desktop fonts in a protected manner. When a font is installed through SkyFonts, it becomes available to all of your applications just like a typical desktop font that has been installed. When the time period is up, SkyFonts removes the font from your system.
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SkyFonts is currently available on MyFonts, Fonts.com and Google Fonts. Each site is using the technology in different ways. On MyFonts and Google Fonts, SkyFonts can be used to automatically download and install a font instead of downloading a .zip file, finding the download, unzipping the contents and finally installing). The font remains on the machine unless it is manually removed by the user.
On Fonts.com we are currently using SkyFonts to allow subscribers of the Web Font Service to temporarily install fonts. Now we’re bringing SkyFonts ability to temporarily install fonts to all users of Fonts.com.
Introducing SkyFonts 5 minute desktop font trials
To further improve the customer experience to discover and buy fonts, SkyFonts is being added for users to try a font for free for 5 minutes. We are initially deploying this feature for all fonts in the Monotype libraries and select foundries including yours.
Figure 2 – new “download a free trial” feature!
SkyFonts will temporarily install the font in a protected mode for 5 minutes. During this time the font will appear in the font menu of applications such as Adobe Creative Suite and Microsoft Office. Once the 5 minutes are over, the font is removed automatically from the font menu and will disappear from their screen.
If you aren’t familiar with SkyFonts, here are some points that explain how it works:
 The SkyFonts client software must be installed by the user, and a user must agree to a EULA which states that the free trial is for testing and evaluation purposes only.
 The user must create a Fonts.com account and be logged in to use SkyFonts
 Users will see an ‘i’ icon that they can rollover to get more information on
the trial. This info text also states the trial is for evaluation purposes only
 Once a user tests a font with SkyFonts it cannot be downloaded again for 24 hours
 Users can only test 25 fonts in a 24 hour period
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If you have not tried SkyFonts, we encourage you to do so. We have created a demo page for you to see how it works: http://www.fonts.com/demo/skyfonts-trial/
Sincerely,
Bill Davis
Global Font Product Manager Email: [email protected] Phone: +1 847 631 1110


Comments

  • Having to sign the Fonts.com contract to be on SkyFonts seems like a pretty big drawback to me.
  • Ben BlomBen Blom Posts: 235
    There has been a paradigm shift here — from serving webfonts through the cloud, to serving desktop fonts through the cloud.

    The fonts which are available on SkyFonts in its newest incarnation, can be used as desktop fonts. So, customers might decide to temporarily rent a font, instead of buying this font as a normal desktop font. I think this possibility of temporarily renting a desktop font, might cannibalize the sale of normal desktop fonts. Because of this, I opted out of SkyFonts’ new option to deliver temporary desktop fonts.
  • I'm shortly looking into subscribing to the Adobe Creative Cloud applications tools model. Actually, this will soon be the only available option. Renting software on a monthly/yearly subscription rate. I did the math, and it's indeed a cost effective solution. I also like the idea of renting software—Adobe automatically updates the apps and I'm always up-to-date and current. This concept seems very attractive. Anyway, I think that this is the direction the entire business model is eventually going with. Regardless of whether we want it to or not.

    MyFonts "try it" (for 5-minutes) skyfonts approach seems like a logical way to proceed. Most software now comes on a free trial basis, so, why not fonts?

    I seem to think that this might encourage users to "try" our fonts, within their layouts and designs, and hopefully entice them to purchase the font(s).

    Actually, I'm not even against renting my fonts on a per project basis, monthly or yearly subscription rate. I was just against selling ”bits” or ”parts” of my font(s)—or incomplete versions, as one company previously wanted to pursue.

    I really think this is probably the direction everything is going in anyway.

    I would be very interested to hear what you all think on the matter.
  • My biggest concern was someone using the font in Illustrator or another drawing program and converting the text to outlines. For a display face this would be a disaster.
  • IMHO, we independent foundries should avoid subscription models because they don't benefit us. We should keep and stress the differences between the approach big software companies have to typography and our approach, which I think, can be more dynamic and aesthetically innovative. Contributing to models that are only beneficial to distributors and quasi-monopolic companies will only erode our importance in the type business.
  • My biggest concern was someone using the font in Illustrator or another drawing program and converting the text to outlines.
    I had the same thought. People buying one font to use in a logo or headline represent a lot of my display type sales. It's going to be hard to profit from display faces if the user pays forty cents instead of forty dollars.
  • My worry is with people converting text to outlines as others have said - perhaps a better system is that MonoType made a more robust system for previewing fonts as rasterised images, but allowing greater sizes / colours / maybe even overlaying them on uploaded backgrounds for visualisation - all while watermarking the preview image of course. That would allow people to visualise the font better, while not going the full distance with giving everything up to make a sale.
  • Thank you all for your insightful comments.

    @Stephen Coles—Wow... that was a great read! Thanks.

    I'm in general agreement with all your trepidation's on the matter & I will probably opt-out of this as well. Still, I wonder if this takes-off and becomes mainstream practice, and the growing crop of small indie foundries that increasingly defines original type design jump on this bandwagon, whether we won't be forced to throw in the towel?

    I wish that we could have a coalition of small type foundries to represent our interests and advise us all how to collectively act when such issues arise.

    Yes, we have this wonderful forum of "typedrawers", and eventually we all get the entire "gestalt" of the situation. But, it would really benefit us all, if a group representing all of our interests, where in place to quickly bring this to our attention and advise us (all) how to collectively proceed. As a unified group, we might have more influence over the coarse of things that effect all our interests.

    I even wish that we could somehow organize, under a unified new "label" and website—sharing our resources and talents together, to market and sell our font products jointly in an effort to benefit the "little guy" trying to make a font living, in an increasingly monopolized industry.
  • I think a better approach would have been along the FontFont plug-in for Adobe apps. The fonts being previewed are rasterized, so there's no fear of turning fonts into outlines in Illustrator. I wonder if the Monotype model can differentiate between apps...allowing you to try a font in a layout/illustration program, but preventing you from opening it in a font editor. You can certainly open a font in FontLab and generate a new copy in less than 5 minutes. Once that's done, you could come back and edit it in any way of your choice afterwards.
  • You can certainly open a font in FontLab and generate a new copy in less than 5 minutes.
    Wow. Hadn't thought of that... I wonder if that's the same with the fonts you can sync via Typekit / Adobe CC?
  • I'm guessing it's even easier than that and you can just copy the fonts out of the secret folder where they are temporarily installed.
  • I think there'll be some losses from people taking screenshots or rasterizing, but I think it's worth the risk to allow customers to test drive fonts in any application.
  • @James Puckett - if you were getting paid 40 cents for every use of the font, so in my case, I might use one of your headline fonts in 20+ documents for one product at a time, every single unique file giving you a royally (if that is in fact how they pay the royalty's) - then I might end up paying you more than $40 in not too long. If the royalty's are less generous, then I agree with you.
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