App fonts pricing

Why do foundries have a different price for web and app fonts?
Is there a obvious reason app fonts should be more expensive than web fonts? (ex: Klim Type)


  • I can't speak for Klim, not least because they have a one size fits all pricing model for both web and app.  For us, all pricing is based on traffic (page views for web and users for app). The pricing has to be different because the yard sticks are different - one device gets counted once a month for app while it gets counted every time it loads a page for web.  It might seem like app is more expensive but once you factor in that difference I hope it isn't (it's hard to be precise with these things but that's our goal). 

    Other reasons app might be more is that there can be user generated text (which has higher value).  The Klim license permits this so long as it is not for the creation of a product (e.g. my menstrual cycle tracking app might use Domaine for the users to enter information).   This one is tricky because while that increased functionality does increase value it is also true that webfonts are less secure so one can argue that they cancel eachother out.  
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,051
    How are web fonts less secure than app zips?
  • @Dave Crossland for mobile apps with embedded fonts it takes more knowledge to extract the fonts than the css of a website
       So, only “more secure” because of what happens to be and not be common knowledge
      i still think it counts because having to learn something creates friction. 
  • The one thing in this web vs app logic that always gets me is: Why, if these types of media are supposedly based on end users consuming the product, is desktop license pricing then not based on the print run or edition of what it is used for. Or asked another way, should not a font being used by 5 users to design one poster be priced differently to a font being used by 5 users to design a daily newspaper. Licensing is so philosophical...

    To return to the original question though, imo the case is rather that there is an implicit assumption that an app will be sold and distributed itself and with the font packaged as part of the product, whereas websites are more ephemeral and there is a less clear revenue link from what your font is used for to where people using it make money.
  • A lot of apps are not directly making money.  We get a lot of customer loyalty apps using our font's for instance.  Similarly, a lot of websites basically are the product.  It isn't simple but we seek to the licensing as straightforward as possible. 

    I wouldn't say that pricing for web and app is about the end user's use. I think of it as the degree to which our IP is adding value to the brand deploying the fonts.  Looking at page views and active users is just a proxy for that - not the real thing being measured.    
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,202
    Foundries may have various reasons and justifications for setting different prices for different types of licenses, but it's the customers who ultimately decide what's acceptable. Apparently, people are willing to pay more for app font licenses.
  • @Kent Lew and @Johannes Neumeier some desktop licenses are that way - with some prominent foundries though I can't remember who off the top of my head.  You have to read the license carefully to find it but it will say something like "this license is for low volume use" and then require additional licensing if the use exceeds a certain number of "impressions".  The whole idea here was to accomidate exactly the problem of no built in obsolescence.  

    It is telling that neither of you knew about it.  The problems with this kind of licensing are many fold.  In no particular order:

    -Its hard to even know how to count "impressions" much less do it.  
    - font software can't actually control the behavior of the user in this way
    -  so few people read EULAs carefully enough to notice this clause, and it is frankly counter intuitive as a software restriction.

    It is not popular now, if it ever was, because the above result in the licensor look like a bully when they enforce it.

  • "this license is for low volume use"

    I have explicitly not purchased fonts for this exact reason. In my own life, because even if I read the EULA once, I don't want to have to read it every time I'm choosing a font for the rest of time. At work, there was often no way of telling what the print run would be. Trying to explain to the boss that we would have to repay for a font because a larger customer picked up one of our products would be impossible.

    As to the original question, there may also be a bit of the exclusivity thing going on- where higher price keeps the premium shine on a font, avoiding overexposure.
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