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REPORT: Microarray Analysis Software Vendors Must Market to a Fickle Crowd

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Although the marketplace for microarray analysis software has grown increasingly crowded over the last few years, a clear market leader has yet to emerge, according to a recent survey conducted by GenomeWeb, the publisher of BioArray News.

The results of the survey, detailed in a recently released report, Microarray Analysis and Visualization, indicate that there is little correlation between market share, usefulness, user-friendliness, and price. For example, while users rated Silicon Genetics’ GeneSpring as the most popular data analysis tool, (59 out of 167 respondents indicated they had used it), Rosetta Resolver topped the list for usefulness (with a usefulness ranking of 300 on a scale of 0 to 400), Imaging Research’s ArrayStat won out for user-friendliness (ranking of 300), and J-Express from Mol-Mine came out on top for price-to-value ratio (ranking of 306.7 out of 400 possible points).

Overall, free software is the most popular choice among users, with 69 respondents indicating they use these tools alone, or in combination with other packages. Commercial software not provided by a chip vendor came in second, with 61 users, followed by homemade software (49 users), and software provided by a chip vendor (31).

Within the free software category, Cluster/Treeview from Michael Eisen at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory was the most popular, with 47 respondents indicating they used it. However, much like the commercial cate-gory, popularity and usefulness did not go hand-in-hand: The R: Statistics package from Terry Speed at the University of California, Berkeley, won out in this category with a ranking of 308.1 out of 400.

When it came to deciding which data analysis software to purchase, users indicated that statistical analysis capabilities are on the top of their requirements list, with a ranking of 373.2, followed by the clustering algorithms provided (ranking of 328.7). The fact that price came in third on the list and ease of use came in fifth may indicate why the most popular tools aren’t always the cheapest or the most user-friendly: The microarray analysis software buyer is looking for results.

“Unlike the market for microarrays themselves, which is dominated by Affymetrix and do-it-yourself arrays, the market for analysis tools has no clear leader,” the report concludes. “Any entrant into this crowded market will face an uphill sell, unless it can show that its program is significantly better than existing software, and is worth the price.”

Note: BioArray News acknowledges the potential conflicts inherent in reporting on a market research product sold by its parent company, GenomeWeb.

— Marian Moser Jones, Editorial Director

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