Illumina ($ILMN) has ripped a page from Apple's playbook and begun development of an app store for genomics software. Called BaseSpace Apps, the app store will offer a marketplace for informatics tools that enable researchers to analyze cloud-stored genomic data generated by Illumina DNA sequencing systems, the company said. And software vendors are already signing on to sell their products at Illumina's virtual store.
Like on existing app stores for mobile devices, San Diego-based Illumina expects to get a cut of the software sales on BaseSpace Apps, but the numbers haven't been finalized, Xconomy's Luke Timmerman reported. The revenue-sharing arrangement has worked wonders for Apple and many of the software developers that have been able to sell their apps to millions of customers. Illumina says that Diagnomics, GenoLogics Life Sciences, Genomatix, Golden Helix, Ingenuity Systems, Knome, Omicia, Spiral Genetics, Omixon, Real Time Genomics, Station X, Integromics, Biomax Informatics AG and Strand Life Sciences have all signed on as initial developers for BaseSpace Apps.
As the leading provider of DNA sequencing machines, Illumina can use the app store both to build a revenue-generating software business on top of its roots in hardware, but also gain some insurance in the fast-changing genomics field. The rapidly declining cost of sequencing is making DNA decoding a commodity service, yet a premium will be placed on technology that enables researchers to rapidly and efficiently analyze and interpret genomic data. Here at the Bio-IT World Expo in Boston, many startups and established tech vendors are showing off their tools for tacking the challenge of making sense of the skyrocketing amounts of genomic data from sequencers like Illumina's.
Given the high demand for applications to explore the genome, Illumina is very likely to encounter rival app stores for genomic software. Mountain View, CA-based DNAnexus, a startup backed by Google Ventures, has revealed plans to develop a cloud-based ecosystem for genomics apps. None of the app stores have gone live, however. Illumina's BaseSpace Apps is expected to be widely available by September, Alex Dickinson, the company's head of cloud genomics, told Xconomy. And DNAnexus hasn't yet unveiled specific plans for its planned offering.
ALSO: While Illumina sketches out its own app store, the company has released a genomics app called MyGenome onto Apple's ($APPL) app store for the iPad. The app enables users to search the human genome (but not their own) and aims to educate them about genetic variations with a consumer-friendly interface.
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