Friday, June 6, 2014

Ancestry "Retires" Several Products

This somewhat abbreviated post is being sent to you from Burbank where I attended a very successful DNA Day yesterday and will begin Jamboree this morning.

Ancestry prunes its product line

Ancestry has announced several decisions to trim its sails that are not pleasing to most family historians. Most of these are to take effect in early September. Two of them which will most affect me are:
1.       The websites, which many of us use to stay connected with others who are interested in researching and documenting branches of our family trees, will be closing September 5th.
2.       The company is also getting out of the yDNA and the mtDNA testing business.
Neither of these decisions is too surprising. However, taken together, do they indicate some bigger strategy is being implemented? Both of these two products have become orphaned over the years. They are soon to be removed from life support. Other products to be "retired" are MyCanvas, and Mundia.

Most MyFamily customers balked at migrating from version 1.0 to “the next generation of” as Ancestry call its version 2.0. Facebook did the rest. These sites which were early social media sites for family members when they were first offered about 15 years ago have gradually lost the vitality they once enjoyed. Many of us would not have been able to make the progress we have achieved with our family histories without MyFamily or some vehicle like it. Users have been notified that we have until September 5th to download content from our sites.

yDNA and mtDNA testing (now called LegacyDNA)

Many of us think Ancestry has been out of the yDNA &mtDNA testing business for years. However, the company has continued to claim that was not the case even after it became clear in 2012 that their heart and capital investments were all going into atDNA testing. The biggest effect of the recent announcement is to end support for database the test results.

Ancestry is a business
For more information on how these produces will be phased out, Ancestry has established links to aid current customers. It remains to be seen whether these announcements signal a change in Ancestry's basic business plan. However it is a reminder that Ancestry is a business that is answerable only to its investors -- particularly since the corporation was taken private almost three years ago. This is a reminder that Ancestry is a for-profit business and that reality takes precedence over more altruistic goals of collecting and preserving genealogically relevant information.

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