Be Careful What You Wish For

Back in July, I suggested that Ancestry should move to a subscription business model, rather than relying on the one-time fee paid by new DNA testers to fund the DNA portion of their business.

While Ancestry might not be listening, 23andMe seems to have realized that a premium subscription service makes more sense, as the quantity of new DNA testers declines with market saturation – most people who see value in DNA testing have already done so.

But 23andMe is not adding a subscription service for family historians, as their focus is more on health than family history, with a few family history carrots to attract more customers.  The subscription service will primarily provide more health reports.

The carrots for family historians are –

  • 3 times the numbers of matches (non-subscribers only see their closest 1500 matches)
  • Enhanced filtering of DNA matches
    • Filter by ancestral geography
    • Filter by haplogroup (which was available to all customers when I took my DNA test)
    • When the user was last active on the site

I will not signing up for the premium service any time soon, for three reasons –

  • The service is only available to customers in the USA, which I am not
  • I tested on the version 3 chip, and would have to buy a new version 5 chip DNA test in order to participate

My reason for taking a 23andMe DNA test was to find DNA matches with whom I share common ancestors, which I can still do, so I will not be deleting my test result, but I will certainly not be upgrading to the version 5 test chip or relocating to the USA in the faint hope of a few more matches.

I still believe that the other DNA testing companies will eventually move to a subscription service business model, but hopefully they will offer better carrots than 23andMe.

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