November 12, 2012 9:58 pm

Bloomberg launches iTunes-style platform

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Bloomberg is launching an iTunes-style portal for applications to allow clients and outside developers to incorporate their own software into the group’s financial data terminals and sell it to Bloomberg’s roughly 315,000 subscribers.

Competitors from Thomson Reuters to Markit have launched similar platforms for outside applications, but Bloomberg’s move is unusual for the market leader, which has long been seen as having a more closed system.

The Bloomberg App Portal will launch on Tuesday after more than a year of testing with applications from more than 40 developers. It will allow the private company to add content, take a cut of revenues generated by application sales and keep users glued to its terminals for more of their working day.

“I know a lot of people thought of us as sort of a closed system. Maybe this will make people look at us a bit differently,” said Tom Secunda, a co-founder of Bloomberg and head of core Bloomberg Professional service, which charges users $20,000 a year for a terminal.

Mr Secunda and Michael Bloomberg established the company in 1981 before networked personal computers were commonplace, and built a private network. It has since taken several steps to create a more open system.

Like Apple’s iTunes store, Bloomberg will keep 30 per cent of all sales over the app portal, but Mr Secunda said this was unlikely to represent significant revenue in the context of Bloomberg’s size. It does not release financial details but its revenues have been estimated at more than $7bn.

Claudio Storelli, global business manager for the app portal, said Bloomberg was in talks with more than 200 potential vendors from Australia to Italy.

Applications approved to date include a trading application designed by a company with experience of designing cockpit displays for fighter pilots.

Speaking after UBS announced 10,000 lay-offs, Mr Secunda admitted that the market for financial data were “really tough”.

“When a client lays off people that sit on a trading desk, that’s not good for Bloomberg or any other [competitor],” he said, but Bloomberg was working to offer clients more value. Analysts believe that Bloomberg has gained market share this year.

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