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23andMe Lowers Price to $399 and Adds More Genealogical SNPs

logo 23andMe just announced that the price of their service has dropped from $999 to $399.  According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, the company lowered the price of testing to attract more customers and increase the size of their database.  The article maintains that 23andMe will still bring in profit from the lower membership price, which is made possible by a “new, higher-density gene-scanning chip made by Illumina Inc. of San Diego.”  From the press release:

“The new Beadchip, called the HumanHap550-Quad+, makes use of a four-sample format. 23andMe also has added improved custom content to the new Beadchip, which will include a broader range of Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) variations and rare mutations not found on the previous Beadchip, thereby providing more relevant data on published associations, as well as maternal and paternal ancestry.”

Since 23andMe launched nearly a year ago, I’ve said that genealogists are a huge potential market for 23andMe’s services.  Undoubtedly, the company has recognized the value of marketing their product to genealogists.  Indeed, 23andMe’s blog, the Spittoon, announced today that the company has partnered with Ancestry.com to provide ancestry-related content from 23andMe to customers who have their DNA analyzed by Ancestry.com:

“We’re also very pleased to announce a new partnership between 23andMe and Ancestry.com, the world’s largest online source of family history information. As part of this arrangement, customers who have their DNA analyzed for genealogical purposes by Ancestry.com will also have access to ancestry-related content from 23andMe.”

You can learn more about the partnership by reading 23andMe’s press release.  As of Tuesday morning, I don’t see any press release at Ancestry.com or DNA Ancestry.

This lower price is only slightly more than many current genetic genealogy tests (some of which only sequence a few thousand bases rather than the 1,000,000+ SNPs tested by 23andMe’s SNP Chip). Will this lower price spur you to sign up for 23andMe’s services?  Will other companies such as deCODEme lower their prices in response?  What do you think?

Blaine Bettinger

Intellectual property attorney, genealogist, and author of The Genetic Genealogist since 2007