Modern Software Experience

2012-05-04

Ancestry.com goes autosomal

AncestryDNA

Ancestry.com has introduced its new AncestryDNA service.

AncestryDNA Home page 2012

The way their press release brings the AncestryDNA news, you'd think that DNA tests from Ancestry.com is something completely new. It isn't.
Ancestry.com has been offering DNA tests for years. Ancestry.com is introducing AncestryDNA™, a new Ancestry.com DNA service, in addition to existing DNA services.

Ancestry.com has been using the ancestrydna.com domain since 2005, and started using the AncestryDNA trademark last year.
What's new is that Ancestry.com has joined the roster of companies offering autosomal DNA tests with a service called AncestryDNA.

GeneTree Logo

GeneTree

The new service, and a site makeover, is what's new about Ancestry.com DNA, but it is not all the news.
The press release mentions that Ancestry.com acquired access to an extensive collection of DNA assets from Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation. What it does not mention is that Ancestry.com bought GeneTree.com. There is no separate press release from Ancestry.com announcing this, and GeneTree did not issue a press release either.

CeCe Moore noticed an message on the GeneTree site and called attention to it her Your Genetic Genealogist blog. The message on the GeneTree home page reads:

We are pleased to announce that Ancestry.com DNA has acquired GeneTree and the DNA related assets from the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation. We are excited to work with Ancestry.com DNA and continue to advance the field of genetic genealogy. More information to come. Click here for the announcement about this exciting news.

The Click here link in that text does not lead to a press release about the GeneTree acquisition. It does not even lead to a GeneTree or SMGF press release. It leads to the Ancestry.com press release for AncestryDNA, which does not mention GeneTree at all.

SMGF Logo

Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation

The Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF) is a non-profit research organisation started in 1999. The Sorensen Database contains more than 100.000 DNA samples and related pedigrees.
Up until its acquisition by Ancestry.com, GeneTree was a wholly-owned subsidiary of SMGF, that provides commercial services that take advantage of the Sorensen Database.

another acquisition

News of the GeneTree acquisition follows closely on Ancestry.com's announcement that they are acquiring Archives.com. That the AncestryDNA press release does not mention the GeneTree acquisition, but merely the access to DNA assets from Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation suggests that, right now, Ancestry.com wants the trade press to focus on how great AncestryDNA is, and not on how many competitors Ancestry.com is buying.

autosomal DNA service

Ancestry.com is offering an autosomal DNA service now. This is far from unexpected news, but it is official now.
Looking around the updated AncestryDNA site (dna.ancestry.com), it almost seems that Ancestry.com is no longer offering any other DNA test. The current site design certainly de-emphasises this, but Ancestry is still offering the tests it offered before the introduction of the AncestryDNA service.
The new AncestryDNA service is still in Beta, and availability is limited. Ancestry.com is currently taking orders from existing Ancestry.com subscribers only.

Ancestry.com claims that demand for the new AncestryDNA is high. Without numbers to back that up, that claim means little, but it should not be dismissed as yet another Ancestry PR claim. Ancestry.com already has a large user base, and visitors to the AncestryDNA site have been able to sign up for the news about the new service for months. Now that Ancestry.com has sent out emails, demand is sure to be considerable, not least of all because of the introduction price of $ 99 (about € 75).
I've said for years that DNA prices are going down, but that does not change the fact that this is the lowest price for an autosomal DNA service yet. It is about one third of what FamilyTreeDNA charges for its autosomal DNA service.

DNA service

The AncestryDNA site claims that the new AncestryDNA test is our best test yet. However, it is important to understand that Ancestry is not really offering a DNA test, but a DNA service. That service helps you make sense of the DNA data, so you probably want that service, but you should be aware that Ancestry.com is not promising anything but the service. Ancestry.com will tell you about your deep ancestry, and may help you identify distant cousins, but as far as I can tell from their site, they are holding on to your raw DNA test results; nowhere does Ancestry.com reassure you that you can download your raw data.
However good the AncestryDNA service may be, if Ancestry does not allow AncestryDNA customers to download their data, a lot of people who order the AncestryDNA service are ultimately going to be disappointed about what they receive for their money. I would not be surprised if Ancestry.com addressed that concern with an additional pay-to-download service.

Ancestry.com may charge only $ 99 for their AncestryDNA service, while FamilyTreeDNA charges $ 289 for their Family Finder service, but FamilyTreeDNA allows you to download your raw data.
It may be hard to choose, but as competition heats up and the DNA testing and service industry matures, it is likely that both the options available to you and the price you have to pay for these will improve.

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