A reader pointed me to a recent Economist article on personal genomics. There are numerous tidbits of interest, such as a passing comment about the chaotic Chinese personal genomics industry (about which I know almost nothing). Perhaps the most important quote comes in the closing paragraph:
Dr Church even argues that genome sequencing “will in effect be available free” because companies will give away sequencing to sell other services, such as genetic interpretation–much as mobile operators “give away” handsets to get customers to sign up for lucrative service plans. And when this happens, he reckons, “it will be just like the internet: once all this information is floating around, a lot of creative people with PCs will nose around and develop applications.”
The ruthless competition in sequencing technology mean that companies in the sequencing industry will spend the next few years butting up against the bottom line, struggling to cut the price of a genome by a few more dollars to match their competitors. That’s a tough way to make a living. On the other hand, companies with skills in interpreting genomes – like, say, 23andMe and deCODEme – will be in a good position to take advantage of plummeting sequencing costs to provide useful genetic information to consumers.