Counting Chromosomes
A blog of random musings on genealogy, genetics, science, and history
Market Research

If you follow genealogy and genetics news like I do, no doubt you have seen—multiple times over the past few weeks—notification of a market study from a company based, I believe, in India called Absolute Reports. The report is titled "2018-2025 Genealogy Products and Services Report on Global and United States Market, Status and Forecast, by Players, Types and Applications."

Sounds intriguing, doesn't it? It was published 22 June 2018; I first saw it advertised in July, and it is offered for the price of US$3,600 for a single-user license with the option to receive a limited, redacted preview. You can view a safe description of the study at Absolute Reports' website.

It remains unclear to me whether Absolute Reports is solely a reseller of externally prepared market reports, or whether they write any of the studies themselves. Regardless, the sample copy of this seven-year genealogy industry forecast that I received contained no attribution of authorship. In fact, section 15.4, "Author List," was redacted of all names or contact information. The only notice of copyright anywhere in the 79-page document (advertised as being 117 pages) is in section 15.3, "Disclaimer": "All trademarks, copyrights and other forms of intellectual property belong to their respective owners and may be protected by copyright."

The beginning of that particular section is, I believe, crucial to understanding the value of the report: "The information and opinions in this report were prepared by [REDACTED]. The information herein is believed to be reliable and has been obtained from authentic public sources.... [REDACTED] research and analysis publications consist of the opinions of [REDACTED]'s research and should not be construed as statements of fact. [REDACTED] disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose."

The redactions in this instance are not mine, but represent areas left blank in the sample report itself.

The summary of the report reads:

This report studies the global Genealogy Products and Services market, analyzes and researches the Genealogy Products and Services development status and forecast in United States, EU, Japan, China, India and Southeast Asia. This report focuses on the top players in global market, like:

  • DNAPrint Genomics, Inc. (USA)
  • Familybuilder (USA)
  • Family History Library
  • Family Tree DNA (USA)
  • Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (USA)
  • Ancestry.com (Formerly known as Generations Network, Inc.)
  • Genealogy.com
  • MyFamily.com
  • RootsWeb.com
  • WorldVitalRecords (USA)

Your own sense of the current genealogy and genetics marketplace no doubt has you tilting your head at that list of companies for focused research. The listing I received in the copy of the sample report was different, but not really any less brow-furrowing:

  • DNAPrint Genomics
  • Familybuilder
  • MyHeritage
  • Family Tree DNA
  • BrightSolid (DC Thomson Family History)
  • Ancestry
  • Genealogy.com
  • MyFamily.com
  • RootsWeb.com
  • World Vital Records
  • The Complete Genealogy Products
  • My History
  • Familysearch

Having had to register my email address in order to obtain the sample report, I knew I would receive follow-up contacts soliciting me to buy the final product. To the credit of the business development person reaching out to me from Absolute Reports, the emails were not a constant barrage but were paced reasonably over the course of multiple days, and the tactics were "how can we help" rather than heavy-handed "buy now" messages.

Nevertheless, I did eventually feel the need to respond with a few brief specifics. In my email, I wrote:

Thank you for your communications regarding this marketing study.

If you will, please do go ahead and remove me from your contact list. I am not interested in considering purchase of the report, largely because it strikes me that the authors, whomever they may be, are ill-informed and the material poorly researched.

By way of example, the first company listed as profiled by the report is DNAPrint Genomics. The company ceased all operations by March 2009. It's final filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was dated 9 February 2009 with the announcement that CEO Richard Gabriel had resigned. DNAPrint's wholly owned subsidiaries Ellipsis Biotherapeutics and Trace Genetics subsequently went out of business, as well. DNAPrint Genomics had been operating in the red, and had signed a deal in 2008 to be acquired by Nanobac Pharmaceuticals. However, Nanobac was unable to raise the required funds before a 31 March 2008 deadline.

Company number two on the list, FamilyBuilder, was a small, entrepreneurial firm that existed in the DNA testing marketplace for only a couple of years. By June 2011 it was out of business, and founder and CEO Ilya Nikolayev had moved on to Intelius in 2011, and in 2013 co-founded and is now CEO of Tapinator, an active company that develops mobile gaming titles.

Brightsolid (https://www.brightsolid.com/; parent company DC Thomson Ltd, a British publishing and television production company; https://www.dcthomson.co.uk/) is a data center, colocation, and cloud management services company in Scotland. DC Thomson's entry in the genealogy services field is a company called FindMyPast, with which the holding Brightsolid has no involvement other than hosting the webservers. FindMyPast does no genetic testing of its own—which the redacted sample incorrectly suggests DC Thomson does—and just last month announced an alliance with aggressive, up-and-coming UK-based genetic genealogy company Living DNA...which is one of the active players glaring in its omission from the report.

RootsWeb is wholly owned by Ancestry.com and has no separately monetized offerings. The same is true of Genealogy.com: owned by Ancestry but still displayed separately after the acquisition; Genealogy.com sells nothing and is not separately monetized. Ancestry.com closed MyFamily.com in September 2014 (https://www.ancestry.com/cs/myfamily). WorldVitalRecords is wholly owned by Israeli firm and significant market player MyHeritage.

I could go on, but I'm sure that provides enough information to serve as possible feedback for the report authors or resellers.

As always, folks, caveat emptor. Even if the initial product or service looks free.