How Many More Next Generation Sequencer Are Needed?

Recently Investment Bank William Blair lowered top-line and bottom-line estimates for Illumina and Pacific Biosciences, citing government funding worries that could impact sales of both firms’ instruments <genomeweb>.

They lowered the forecast for shipping of 260 Illumina instruments in 2012 and 248 instruments in 2013. They also report a recent decrease of HiSeq consumables and lowered the forecast for consumable sales in 2012 by 3%. They predict also only a slight increase of 5% for consumable sales in 2013 over 2012.

If the shipping of 248 instruments increases the consumable sales only by 5%, than I have to wonder, how many of these instruments are really in use. If 248 instruments in average need 5% of the consumables this would mean, that at that time 4960 instruments are placed, which is far away from reality. The conclusion can only be that in average the instruments are used at less than 20% capacity. 

A huge amount of research money is used for buying instruments, instead of sourcing the service. As a consequence it takes long to fill a flow cell and the operators often have limited experience with sample preparation, data handling and analysis. This produces often pure data quality and is not helpful for high end research.

I am very curious about your opinion.

Georg Gradl (Germany)

About Georg Gradl (Germany)

From the beginning, Georg is focusing on next generation technologies.

8 Responses to “How Many More Next Generation Sequencer Are Needed?”

  1. Yes, with the increase in the sequencing technology platforms delivering both good quality and quantity of raw sequence data, the researchers (Organizations)should invest analysis and annotations. I concur with Georg that money is well spent by out sourcing sequencing.

  2. Hello Georg.
    I believe a part of the current sequencers in the market were bought just because it was “cool to have it” or “the guy next door had it”, and not because it was really needed. Also, only after buying the instrument customers realised it was expensive to run them. Even the cheap instruments (the ION torrent, for example) are expensive to run (as much as the 454, as much as I know). This last point is why I personally believe it is important to drive costs down for the labs, not only of the instruments themselves but also of the reagents they use. There is also a need for more flexibility on the instrument, so the customer doesn’t need to fill the entire flow cell or chip to run the instrument and avoid wasting reagents. Thats why I believe the MaxSeq is a good fit for todays lab needs and tight budgets, offering low cost (both instrument and consumables) and flexibility as well.

    • Georg Gradl (Germany)

      Hallo Ezequiel,
      This is what I wanted to say: Many sequencer are bought without realy needing them and without considering the consequences in terms of sample preparation, running cost, sequencing capacity and data analysis. The MaxSeq is a niche product that could not penetrate the market. It delivers short reads that are not useful for many applications. Considering the rapid developments in the next generation sequencing market in most cases it is much better to use a service provider. Overall this is the cheapest service at high quality and short delivery time.

    • Thanks for the publicity about the Assemblathon. I’m glad that we’ve seen a sdweipread interest and that we now have entrants from just about all of the major international genomics/institutes.As for the name, well I have to take the credit (or blame) for that. I was aware of the established norms for such assessment exercises but I wanted something a little more memorable and something for which would not be confused too much with other efforts. At a very practical level, I always wanted to use something for which I could register a domain name and twitter account. However, you might be happy in knowing that the other genome assembly project that is occurring at the moment, more closely follows your advice. They are dnGASP.