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Thomas Phinney

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Thomas Phinney
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  • Re: the OpenType features UI questionnaire /Q1


    I would be very happy to also design vari-font reference UI. I do not see so much overlap/synergy with the discretionary OpenType features so it makes the design project simply longer. not twice as long, because vari-fonts is not as complex as OT features.
    I agree that there isn't actually that much synergy in the work to be done with Variable Fonts. But VF is something that has attention and mind share and might easily get funded. Dealing with both under a single umbrella would be a strategic move to try to get the general feature UI funded and paid attention to. (Probably not something I should say publicly, oh well.)

    Perhaps the Variable Fonts work will not be as complex from a “design the user interface” perspective. From either an infrastructure or app-implementation perspective, I suspect it will be more work, not less.

     T
  • Re: the OpenType features UI questionnaire /Q1

    I hate to say this, but I do not see at all why the effort of type designers will have any impact on support from apps. Software product managers are much more interested in what their users want, and also in this case what proportion of the fonts their users have support these things. But the effort the type designers put in is really not a business-centered or end-user-centered argument.

    Certainly, the number of fonts already supporting the features matters, especially when further considered by the popularity of those fonts. Knowing that there are many widely-used fonts that have features that are inaccessible in the apps, that is an argument for putting the features in the apps. “Empower your users with functionality they are missing!”

    Better still, survey a bunch of users, then educate them, then survey the same users again: that could show how many ask for the features before they are prompted, and then see how many want them once they know what they are missing.
  • Re: MyFonts and families

    I tend to think of Adobe’s bundling, and their price drops, as a response to Corel and Microsoft. Corel started bundling 830 fonts with CorelDraw in 1990.

    Adobe had their own discounted “Type Sets” collections as early as the summer of 1991, following on the availability of Adobe Type Manager. But they were not quite on the scale of Corel. Corel bundled vastly more fonts than Adobe did (830 vs 220), and kept their old app versions available at substantially lower prices than Adobe charged. Although initially there were some sketchy fonts in Corel's collection, most of the junk was fairly soon replaced by stuff from Bitstream, ITC, and URW. They became a big bundle of good quality fonts that in their previous-release version you could find at a supermarket.
  • Re: MyFonts and families

    I don't know if it's really a race to the bottom unless we're sacrificing quality on the way. If I sell a typeface family for $100 to 10 people, $10 to 100 people or $1 to 1000 people, it doesn't make me want to make me cut corners on the next product any more or less. I get paid just as much in all 3 scenarios.

    ...
    I'm really thinking that bundles and deep discounting aren't a problem at all, they're a symptom of something. Does this happen in other fields? Any economists care to explain this phenomenon? I want to art college so I have no idea what I'm talking about.
    Well, speaking as a type designer who is also an MBA....

    What you say would be true, only if the price elasticity of demand is non-linear and makes *exactly* the right curve. In general, for most products and services, this is not the case. That is, it would be unlikely, a massive coincidence, for any particular good if the price elasticity curve happens to be shaped such that there is no profit-maximizing price and all points are equal.

    Note: don't forget the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS). That's why I wrote profit-maximizing rather than revenue-maximizing. If you have 1000 customers instead of 10, don't you think you might have higher support costs?

    We also have at least some experience with price changes for fonts. When font prices dropped in the early-mid 90s, thanks to Microsoft and Corel, profits plummeted. Adobe laid off half their type staff in 1994. So I am at least provisionally suspicious that further price drops are good for font revenue—although I will be the first to say that it may vary depending on what part of the market you're operating in.
  • Re: Transition To Digital Type

    Does anyone know the argument for or against user vs. device licensing? It's not clear that either side is more prominent in the current marketplace.
    Digital fonts were not originally WYSIWYG on screen, so back then it made sense to license by output device. The computer itself didn't do much with the font, and jobs were prepared whether or not the computer had the font.

    Nowadays, with the screen and the document being the place the fonts get used most, fonts being embedded in documents for later printing, and output being secondary, licensing by user makes more sense—and seems to be far more prevalent.