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ATL stops U.S. sales of Ultramark 4

ATL stops U.S. sales of Ultramark 4

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 configuration.

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.

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