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Vendors Cautiously Optimistic as Illumina Readies BaseSpace App Store

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Cautious optimism seems to be the prevailing mood among some of the bioinformatics vendors that have signed up to develop analysis tools for Illumina's Base-Space applications store.

Most companies on the initial developer list have described Illumina's app-based model as a good fit for the life sciences space, but made it clear that they will be keeping a close eye on adoption rates when the store officially opens.

Illumina introduced BaseSpace Apps at the BioIT World Conference last April and released a list of companies — all of whom currently offer web-based or cloud-enabled tools — that it had tapped to develop and offer apps for sale. The list includes GenoLogics Life Sciences, Golden Helix, Ingenuity Systems, Knome, Omixon, and Station X, among others.

For the initial launch of BaseSpace apps, most vendors on Illumina's partner list are developing single applications that will offer a subset of the functionalities that exist in their standard software suites.

Omixon, for instance, is developing an HLA genotyping application for identifying disease associations using whole-genome or whole-exome data as well as from targeted sequencing data, Attila Bérces, the company's CEO, says. The app, which is currently in beta testing, will also be included in Omixon Target, the company's desktop software tool for analyzing targeted next-generation sequence data, he adds.

Another company on Illumina's list, Golden Helix, intends to enable its newly developed visualization tool, dubbed GenomeBrowse, to stream information in real time from BaseSpace, according to Andrew Ferrin, Golden Helix's executive vice president for business development and services. He says that the company also intends to offer GenomeBrowse for free via its own cloud infrastructure.

Illumina is allowing app developers to pick the prices for their tools. Alex Dickinson, Illumina's senior vice president of cloud -genomics, has said that the company will split the revenues generated from app sales with its partners — Illumina will receive 30 percent of the sale revenues and the remaining 70 percent will go to the app provider.

Most vendors appear to be staying away from licensing or subscription--based approaches, but it's not clear how they are setting appropriate pricing for their tools. Some companies, such as Station X, say that they are still working out pricing details and models, while others have settled on specific price points — a pay-per-sample model in most cases — but declined to disclose exact amounts.

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