Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Google Finance Beta Debuts: Clean, Comprehensive and Different

Reuters reports along with the world on the debut of Google Finance, the long-awaited portal offering that offers a clean and sophisticated look at financial content. Rafat Ali on paidContent.org notes that the portal was developed with support from Reuters, Revere Data, Dun & Bradstreet, Hoover's and Morningstar, but these top-notch sources are just the beginning of the story. The interface is in some ways quite familiar - only so many ways to show stock quotes and charts - but the interactive charting function is far more sophisticated than that offered by Yahoo! Finance. Glide your cursor over the points on the curve and you get automatic readouts of the market data at that point in time. The posting time of headlines displayed for a given stock are tied in to the charting function, so you can see easily how major news events related to stock movement. As with Google Maps, you can grab the chart with your cursor and drag it either direction in time - and as you do, the headlines move along with it to indicate the news for the displayed period. The rest of the page includes key company facts, a company summary, key management, top line company financials with links to details, data on related companies with links to sector data, blog posts gleaned from Google's own weblog search and links to other sources - including Google Finance's own comparison charts and research reports repository.

All of this on ONE PAGE. Yahoo! Finance offers additional details such as
SEC filings, holdings and insider transactions data that's likely to be of interest to more sophisticated investors, the Google offering provides a remarkable range of content in one spot accompanied by functionality that readily distinguishes it from the Yahoo! offering. This is a tool for people who want to understand the markets as easily as possible, with a great deal of thought put in to what an individual investor needs to know to monitor a company and make effective decisions. It can be argued that other offerings will offer more, but it's already a good enough offering that Google's pre-eminent position as a search engine destination can easily draw off traffic that would have been bound for other portals as a matter of course. With that traffic in hand this "Beta" version of Google Finance can be easily refined to bolster up its responsiveness to its audience. We've been aware of this for some time and aware of the players involved, but it's impressive nevertheless to see such a powerful and clean initial offering. There's little doubt that Google Finance will be off to a strong start - if they can keep the usual Google technical glitches at bay.
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