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Entigen, DoubleTwist Eliminate Free Portal Access, Revise Pricing Models

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 IN LINE with what appears to be an industry-wide restructuring pattern, bioinformatics providers Entigen and DoubleTwist have both changed the pricing models for their web-based research tools and have eliminated free trials as an option for access to their sites.

Entigen posted a note explaining the new pricing model for its BioNavigator service on its website (www.bionavigator.com) last week, while DoubleTwist e-mailed current users of its site (www.doubletwist.com) to notify them of the change.

BioNavigator, which used to be a pay-as-you-go service, will now only be available via subscription. Howard Goldstein, president of Entigen, told BioInform that annual subscriptions run from $2,000 to $5,000 per seat. “On average,” Goldstein said, “customers were spending what the annual subscription is anyway, so it made more sense to allow them to pay up front.”

Entigen will no longer allow users to self-register for free trial usage of BioNavigator, and on Friday deactivated all trial accounts that had not yet converted to subscriptions.

DoubleTwist, meanwhile, plans to discontinue the “Bronze” level of its online service, which gives users free access to a limited portion of services, on December 1.

“It was expensive to support [the Bronze service],” said DoubleTwist spokeswoman Nicole Litchfield. “We want to focus on our customers and our paid-for services.”

Dropping the free offerings, which serve primarily as a vehicle to lure paying customers to these online services, may seem an unwise decision in light of the slowing economy. But both Goldstein and Litchfield said the changes were influenced by the success of their respective products.

“We introduced thousands of customers to the service over the last two years during our introductory period and we were able to convert customers that way,” Litchfield said of DoubleTwist’s trial. “We’ve established the product now and that’s no longer the strategy that we want to use to sell the product.”

Litchfield added that DoubleTwist now has a strong sales organization in place, “and that’s our primary vehicle for selling the product now.”

DoubleTwist will still offer the Gold and Silver levels of its online service, and recently launched GenomeZone, a lower-priced online version of its Prophecy database and tools.

Previously, Litchfield told BioInform that annual commercial subscription rates for online access to the company’s proprietary data range from $1,800 to $10,800 per person.

Goldstein said that Entigen’s decision came as part of its plan to move from its original online model toward in-house installations of BioNavigator behind company firewalls.

“The problem was that many researchers signed up only to find that their companies wouldn’t allow them to use it, or they could use it but only for certain kinds of projects, and in order to use it for larger projects they wanted it in-house,” Goldstein said.

Noting that in-house installation of the service “wasn’t part of our original product plan,” Goldstein said, “it has become more and more of a demand.”

Going forward, Goldstein said he sees the company’s business split between online and installed services. Of the current 17,000 users of the online site, Goldstein said he’s confident the majority will remain as paid users. “We’re ahead of what we expected for subscriptions,” he said. “We’re expecting subscriptions to stay at a very healthy level.”

— BT

 

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