Google steps up Genomics pitch with $25-a-genome storage service

Google's headquarters--courtesy of Google
Google's headquarters--Courtesy of Google

Google ($GOOG) is going after your genome. The search giant has spent the past 18 months building its Google Genomics platform and pitching it to researchers as a way to store human genomes for $25 each per year.

While Mountain View, CA-based Google has struck a string of genomics deals in recent months, it has said little publicly about the platform it unveiled in March. But Google has been trying to drum up interest from hospitals and universities, MIT Technology Review reports. Google will now store the 100 gigabytes of raw data that make up the human genome for around $25 a year. A trimmed version of the data taking up one gigabyte costs $0.25 to store for a year.

Google charges more for any computations on the data, but overall the cost of cloud-based genomics is dropping. The cost of the hardware that underpins cloud services continues to decline. And Amazon ($AMZN) and Google are battling it out to become the cloud-computing engine room for everything from genomics to app development. "Prices are finally becoming reasonable, and we think they will keep dropping," Somalee Datta, the manager of Stanford University's genetics computer cluster, said.

The price of storing data with Amazon or Google is now comparable to using Stanford's in-house capacity, Datta said. For smaller organizations, the ability to store and manipulate genetics data without building their own computer cluster makes cloud-based services particularly attractive. Some still doubt if Google can handle the complexity of genetics, but Stanford University's Atul Butte saw it as a force as soon as Genomics was unveiled earlier this year.

"[I understood] how travel agents felt when they saw Expedia," Butte said.

- read Technology Review's article