TC2006: Demystifying Font Management (or "why does font mgmt suck so bad")

Just exited the "Demystifying Font Management" panel discussion, grabbed a bite at Finagle a Bagel (lame name, blah sandwich), and I have to sit down and post my off-the-cuff comments.

1- When staging a panel discussion, prepare the panel members ahead of time for the pointed, astute comments from David Berlow (Font Bureau).

2- When asking a question to the panel, make sure Bruno isn't in within arm's reach of the microphone. (Herr Steinert, I'm only teasing.) =)

The panel was fine and the technical questions were answered well, and some of the main issues of font management addressed. What bothered me was the almost nonchalant approach to the subject that the 3 font management reps and the Apple rep brought. Instead of hearing the pain points of a broad base of users and taking that back to their product teams as market research, they just said, "font management has to be sucky" and "it's the user's responsibility to know their libraries, know what's compatible and troubleshoot our own glitches.

It was akin to telling the airline industry that they have a major problem with customer service and them saying back, "I feel your pain, but air travel just has to suck, so deal."

The future:
I'm honestly really excited about Linotype's Font Explorer app. It follows an entirely different business model, akin to iTunes where the app is free. (Does anybody remember paying for SoundJam?) The reason it's a viable business for Apple is because people use it to explore music and buy new tunes. The trick for Linotype to pull off is to setup a licensing model that taps into non-Linotype libraries. Who knows, maybe Linotype can justify the software dev costs simply through increased Linotype sales, and not have to worry about hooking in other foundries'.

Other thoughts from attendees and non?