Thursday, May 3, 2012

AncestryDNA is Here

I just got an email notice that AncestryDNA has launched. If you read the document linked in the previous sentence, you will note that as of now it is only being offered to current subscribers. Even for the million or so of us, the offer is being phased to spread out the anticipated demand. Apparently the offer is going to be made to those of us who signed up in advance to be notified. For those that did make that request, we must wait for a specific invitation to order. 

Is there really going to be that much initial demand or is this just hype to get us to rush to order? Only time will tell. 

What appears to be offered is an autosomal test. This means that it is a test that both women and men can take on a level playing field. At least initially, the price seems right. It appears that $99 will be the initial price. That's about one third what similar tests from FTDNA (FamilyFinder) or 23andMe (RelativeFinder) have been charging. Of course 23andMe has offered that as an entry price if an monthly subscription fee is agreed to. 

As with most things, the devil is in the details. Will Ancestry get DNA testing right this time? Their track record with Y-chromosome DNA testing was less than outstanding. Although the launch of this new autosomal test has been clouded in secrecy, Ancestry has certainly made a big investment in this product launch. Only time will tell if the company understands that when it comes to applying genetics to family history research, customer service and helping customers match with others is more important than the science of DNA. 

If this new service gets any traction in the marketplace, expect FTDNA and 23andMe to respond in some way--possibly in the form of a price war. Both of them have offered autosomal testing for two years. 23andMe also offered testing for health issues including drug reactions. FTDNA also offers Y-chromosome (male on the paternal/surname line) and mitochondrial (both genders up the maternal line) testing that are more specific than autosomal testing bur only offer information on two of your ancestral lines.

If you are unclear about how autosomal DNA testing may be able to help you in your research and/or what its limits are, you should have time to educate yourself before you will have the opportunity to order a kit. I have several earlier posts on autosomal DNA. The most recent of them is linked here and you can follow the thread back in time. Also check out CeCe Moore's excellent blog, YourGeneticGenealogist which focuses on autosomal DNA research and interpretation. There is also a 23andMe Newbies discussion group on Facebook.

Have you DNA tested yet? If not, why not? If you have tested, what have you learned?

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