All good things must eventually come to an end, and so it is with
ATL's Ultramark 4 ultrasound scanner. After a 12-year run in which
over 12,000 systems were installed, the Bothell, WA, company has
discontinued U.S. production of the workhorse ob/gyn scanner.
ATL introduced Ultramark 4 in 1984 as a general-purpose, non-color-flow
scanner. Sales of the systems were shifted to ob/gyn physicians
and international markets as the vendor developed more advanced
scanners. The scanner sold for $30,000 to $60,000, depending on
U.S. production of Ultramark 4 was stopped early this year,
although manufacturing and sales will continue in India through
ATL's joint venture company in that country.
A major factor contributing to the scanner's demise was the
changing face of the U.S. market, which has resulted in fewer
solo ob/gyn practitioners and more group practices that can afford
more advanced technology, according to ATL spokesperson Jane Hedberg.
"We feel that the ob/gyn market is going to more of a
group practice situation," Hedberg said. "Ultramark
4 was a very successful product for us, but the technology has
improved since then and it is time to provide more image quality
and more features."
While the entire ATL sales force sold Ultramark 4 scanners,
the majority of sales were handled by a 15-person ob/gyn sales
team. Those employees will be folded into a new sales force ATL
has established, which is targeted at women's health.
To fill Ultramark 4's place in the gray-scale imaging segment,
ATL is rolling out an upgraded version of the Apogee 800 scanner,
which the company acquired through its purchase of Interspec.
Apogee 800 Plus features a new user-friendly control panel, a
new microprocessor, and new and expanded analysis packages, Hedberg
said. It will begin shipping next month at list prices of $65,000
for a gray-scale scanner to $90,000 for a color version.