1995/6 U.S. MSPPSA report on Densitometers & Image Analysis

110 pages, 97 graphs and tables

Published: March 15, 1996

Price: $2295

The techniques of densitometry and image analysis were performed by 56.5% of U.S. life science researchers in 1995, representing 51,600 individuals. Our detailed analysis of this market puts total instrument sales at over $70 million, for a wide range of densitometers and related equipment. The annual growth to this research segment was under 20%, indicating a change from earlier forecasts.

The 110 page study, which forms part of PhorTech's periodic MSPPSA series, examines the installed base of image analysis instruments, including separate analyses for laser, white light, tube gel, gas ionization and fluorescence densitometers, flat bed scanners, phosphor imagers, CCD cameras, image analysis software and systems. Unit and dollar placements per year, market sizes and growth rates, plus unit and dollar market shares for each of these instrument categories have been calculated, based upon our analysis of the responses to over 3,000 surveys mailed out to a cross-section of life science researchers last winter. We also identify the most frequently mentioned models for each class of image analysis instrument and the average reported prices for each manufacturer. The leading models in each category were: Bio-Rad 620 for general densitometers, HP ScanJet scanner for flat bed scanners, BioImages's visage CCD camera system, Zeiss for their imaging microscopes and Molecular Dynamics for their laser unit, storage phosphor system, fluorescent detector and ImageQuant software.

Complete demographic analyses include the distribution of users by type of organization, and also areas of scientific expertise. For example, we found the academic segment to be more highly penetrated than either industry, hospitals and medical schools, or government agencies. The degree of representation in the historically less well-funded academic world has been increasing over the past few years, perhaps due to decreasing prices for these capital instruments. All image analysis users were focused predominantly in molecular biology, but also were found in higher concentrations among biochemists, and to a lesser extent among cell biologists and immunologists.

The types of samples examined by image analysis include colonies & plaques, tissue sections, DNA sequencing, microtitration plates, Northern, Southern & Western blots, dot & slot blots, 1-D & 2-D gels, TLC plates and any other category respondents choose to write in. The results showed that 1-D gels, Western, Northern and Southern blots were all run by over half of all respondents. There seemed to be an increase in the number of Westerns, Southerns and sequencing gel analysis, while 2-D gel and colony image analyses are decreasing. The use of labels seems to be divided fairly evenly between the isotopic and non-isotopic. The results many indicate that the long forecast shift away from isotopic labels may finally be taking place.

Respondents' satisfaction with their choice of image analysis instrument was fairly low compared to other instruments we have studied, and the market leader is not seen as flawless. A closer look at this data revealed that certain types of densitometers were extremely problematic. These included white light, gas ionization and laser densitometers, as well as the associated software. Microtech and Stratagene showed the highest satisfaction ratings.

These leading suppliers of image analysis instruments are also rated in the following areas of customer satisfaction: ease of use, versatility, reliable quality, innovation, value for money, fast results, field service and commitment to image analysis. Molecular Dynamics takes a strong position in this market, sweeping all eight categories. Bio-Rad has also established a position for itself in the last two years, with instruments considered to be easy to use, versatile and a good value. The remaining suppliers, achieve less than 10% of the votes in any of the categories. Although this has essentially remained unchanged in the past two years, it does not appear to be a very successful profile for a long-term commitment to this market.

A significant number of our respondents provided suggestions for improvements in image analysis instruments. They were concerned with quite a few different issues including pricing, speed, and ease of use. However, many respondents requested improvements that were related to computer interfacing, software and data manipulation.

We consider this report essential reading for anyone serious intending to succeed in this increasingly competitive area.

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