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Hiragino family joins the Morisawa Passport program

Friday, September 10th, 2010

I’ve got surprised news that Dainippon Screen Inc. announced that Hiragino font family, which is known as a Japanese font family bundled on MacOSX, will join the Morisawa passport program in the next update version in Autumn 2010. Not only Hiragino KakuGothic (Sans Serif), Mincho, MaruGothic (Round serif), also Yutsuki Kana series, Hiragino UD family, is a spin-offed version of Hiragino, will be bundled on the kit.

I was very surprised that news because Dainippon screen must be the last competitor to defeat Morisawa. The design quality of Hiragino products is brilliant, and Hiragino is bundled on Mac OSX and it generates much revenue to the company. So I believe there’s no worry that Dainippon Screen don’t have to use an annual license program although its variety of the fonts are less than the ones of Morisawa. Honestly speaking, I was a little bit disappointed that Dainippon Screen made a decision to join Marisawa program because every font maker should provide its products by itself. Besides, Morisawa is a competitor. I couldn’t believe Hiragino would join the rival program.

Most of Japanese major foundries recently started providing an annual font license program since Fontworks started Lets Program in 2004 for the first case in Japan. Morisawa followed to start the similar annual license program called Morisawa Passport in 2007, which has been welcomed by users and designers and getting increase its sales year by year. Then the other foundries, Iwata, TypeBank and Motoya started Lets program, and finally Dynacomware announced to start providing an annual license program called DynaSmart in the earlier this year. The reason why most of Japanese foundries plunged into the annual license program market, I guess the users seem to think it is very affordable and useful for getting several kind of typefaces at once despite paying the license fee every year. As you may know, typical Japanese typeface is very expensive compared with the Latin alphabet typefaces. It costs at least 10,000 per style, for example, the latest Morisawa passport contains more than 500 style typefaces and covers several kind of styles such as text, display, fancy, traditional and modern feelings, which is as much as a few million yen. Graphic designers must be happy to have them, then will be free from annoying consideration to buy new typefaces or asking their supervisor to get permission purchasing it.

I have to say the annual license program is very useful and helpful for users. From the point of type designers’ view, however, the royalty per typeface will be getting decrease as the contents is getting increase in the passport library. Do you think it must be a good business model for type designers? I doubt it. If Morisawa would not replace the contents along with the users’ demand or allow users choice the limited numbers of favorite fonts, the business model might be going to get the worse result at some point.