1995/6 MSPPSA report on Synthetic Oligonucleotides

137 pages, 107 graphs and tables

Published: February 12, 1996

Price: $2295

The number of U.S. life science researchers using synthetic oligonucleotides has risen dramatically over the past two years from 59% to 71% of the population, comprising 64,700 scientists. Individual owners make up the majority of the 22,500 scientists who use a DNA synthesizer, in contrast to the ever-decreasing number of core facilities. Our detailed analysis of the market for 1995 puts instrument sales for synthesizers at $13.8 million, dwarfed considerably by sales of phosphoramidites and, especially, custom oligonucleotides.

This comprehensive 137 page study, which forms part of PhorTech's MSPPSA series, examines the installed base of DNA synthesizers, as well as the annual consumption of custom oligonucleotides and phosphoramidites. Unit and dollar placements per year, market sizes and growth rates, plus unit and dollar market shares for the instruments 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 the instruments and the average reported prices for each manufacturer. The ABI 394, 391 and 392, along with Beckman's Oligo 1000 were the most often cited synthesizers.

These analyses are repeated for the custom oligo market, which is flooded with small suppliers, and the phosphoramidite market, virtually owned by the same supplier that holds the synthesizer market in its tight grasp (ABI). Unfortunately, the market for 'self-made' oligonucleotides is decreasing, as seen by slow growth in the instrument sales, and dropping prices for phosphoramidites. Quite the opposite is seen with the huge custom oligo market.

Extensive demographic analyses were performed and include not only users' segmentation by type of organization and area of expertise, but also their source of oligos, use of DNA synthesizers and applications for all synthetic oligos. As expected, the bulk of this work is found in industrial organizations, and is geared toward PCR-related applications. We delved deeply into the sources of respondent's oligos, whether they were made themselves, obtained from a dedicated on-site facility or obtained from commercial suppliers. The answer should be heartening for a bevy of companies.

Leading suppliers of custom oligos are rated in the following areas of customer satisfaction: value for money, reliable quality, fast delivery time, availability of modifications and best customer support. Gibco/BRL, a well-known leader, appears over the huge number of smaller suppliers with regional strongholds. They reappear when respondents are asked which supplier they have switched to within the past six months. Respondents seem to be more pleased than not with the companies they deal with for custom oligos.

The situation for DNA synthesizers and phosphoramidites is quite different. Although ABI was chosen as the clear leader, respondents have detailed several areas where they are dissatisfied and desire improvement. Our respondents seem to be less pleased with their synthesizers than other instruments we have studied, and do not find the market leader to be flawless. Beckman earns a respectable second place in terms of customer satisfaction, but scores higher than ABI in terms of product satisfaction.

Since its release, the report has been purchased by 10 companies determined to strengthen their position in this growth market. We consider this report essential reading for anyone serious intending to succeed in this increasingly competitive area.

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