Bioinformatics software companies have no clue why no-one buys their products

Companies who produce expensive, closed-source bioinformatics software packages are still completely in the dark as to why absolutely no-one buys their products.

Bioinformatics is the science of using computers to understand biology, with a specific focus on DNA and protein sequences.  The first bioinformatics software tool was produced by Margaret Dayhoff in 1962.  Despite this early breakthrough by a female scientist, the field remains dominated by barely human, barely male hairless chimps with pale white skin and unkempt hair who live in holes beneath oak trees.  Painfully shy, these creatures (“bioinformaticians”) are unable to make eye contact and can only communicate using electronic methods.

Ever since the field of bioinformatics was formed, software companies employing people in expensive suits have been trying to make money out of it – with absolutely no success.

“I can’t believe it” said Claude Lopez, owner of the CLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLC Bio, the company that produces CLCLCLCLCLCLCLCLC Genomics Workbench.  “We sat for months with key stakeholders, with biologists.  They said they wanted menus, and buttons and graphical output.  They said they didn’t care how it worked as long as it did something – anything!  Some of them even got down on their knees and begged me to help them, saying they were drowning in data.  So we produced CLC Bio, and we tried to sell it to them for $5k per year – nothing, we got nowhere.  They didn’t even return our calls”

Alan Vadis, lead developer for the Avadis NGS package, concurred: “Our experience has been almost exactly the same.  We developed a really cool looking package with pointy clicky things, but couldn’t sell a single license”.

At this point in the interview, Alan put his head in his hands, a defeated man, and said “It’s as if somewhere, out there, is a collection of totally free software that can do a far better job than ours can, with open, published methods, great support networks and fantastic tutorials.  But that’s madness – who on Earth would create such an amazing resource?”

If anyone is aware of such a software collection, please contact The Science Web.

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2 Responses to Bioinformatics software companies have no clue why no-one buys their products

  1. berthubert says:

    There’s actually a hidden truth in there.. what IF we made tools that biologists could use? “They said they wanted menus, and buttons and graphical output” “Some of them even got down on their knees and begged me to help them, saying they were drowning in data.” – these aren’t unreasonable things to ask for!

  2. Gord Brown says:

    GUIs are unreasonable, if you want cutting-edge analysis tools, made available to you for free. If making a cutting-edge analysis package takes time N, making the friendly GUI might take double or triple the time, for which the developer gets no credit (i.e. additional publications). And it’s not very interesting code to write, for most of us, so there’s really no payoff.

    And hey! My hair is *not* unkempt! 😉

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