Google, the leading internet search engine, will on Tuesday extend its ambitions as a content provider with the launch of Google Finance – a website offering financial data and news.
The free service will be launched in the Google tradition as a still-in-development beta product. But it appears to challenge the well-established Yahoo Finance and Microsoft’s MSN Money for dominance in the sector.
Google Finance offers similar features to its rivals – share quotes and charts, integrated financial news from its Google News service, discussion groups and the ability for investors to create personalised portfolios of their share holdings.
It also introduces innovations. The interactive charts will map market data with news stories, so the effect of announcements can be tracked against the stock performance. The charts can also be dragged dynamically using a scroll bar through different time periods.
Users can find out information on a company by just typing in its name, rather than having to know its ticker symbol. Google has also adapted its search results page by showing the frequency of news about a company, with bar charts showing news volumes over time. Its Blog Search will add results for online commentary found in blogs.
The company’s entry into aggregating financial information is likely to spark competition and fresh innovation in the sector. Yahoo Finance, the leading service, has made few technical improvements to its site compared to the recent “Web 2.0” innovations it has introduced elsewhere. These include a facelift for its e-mail service to allow drag-and-drop of e-mails and viewing panes for messages.
It has continued to add content and data to Yahoo Finance. Six months ago, it announced it was hiring nine columnists to add original content to the site – its news has been provided by partnerships with a broad range of media outlets, including the Financial Times.
The Google service actually links to its competitors in areas where it lacks expertise – such as Yahoo Finance’s research reports and comparison charts.
“Yahoo has a very strong offering , they’ve been around for 10 years, this is Day One for us so we want to do what’s best for our user,” Katie Jacobs Stanton, senior product manager of Google Finance told the Financial Times.
The new service was developed in Google’s Bangalore and New York offices and its data is largely confined to North American companies. European stock data should be added once licensing deals have been agreed, Google said.
Yahoo Finance holds a big lead globally over MSN Money in the sector and is also number one in the US. The Nielsen//Netratings research firm gave it a unique audience of 12m users in February, compared to 10.9m for MSN Money, 8.5m for CNNMoney and 8.3m for AOL Money and Finance.