It’s a pattern we keep seeing repeated across the tech landscape in PCs, displays and cell phones. Hardware prices drop to commodity levels, and the action and the value all migrates to software-
After years of exotic and very expensive machines sequencing DNA, the genomics industry finally looks poised for its cell phone moment.
Soon, the business of genetics could look a lot like the commodity-driven mobile industry, with providers selling hardware on the cheap and relying on software, apps and diagnostics to drive revenue. And, as with the app-filled smartphones we keep close to us 24/7, genomics could finally become a much more intimate part of our lives.
“With smartphones it’s the data and apps where the high value has accrued over time. In the case of sequencing, it’s going to be something similar,” said Jorge Conde, CFO and co-founder of Knome, a genomic diagnostics company. The question, he says, then becomes whether the market looks like Apple’s walled garden, Microsoft’s more democratic model, or Google, where everything happens in the cloud.
In recent years, the industry has been working to solve the data storage and analysis bottlenecks resulting from an explosion of genetic data as sequencing costs have continued to drop. And they have succeeded. That means companies and institutions can finally focus on deciphering what all our genetic data actually means and how it might influence our risk for certain diseases. In other words, diagnostics is where the money is moving.