Google Inc. is introducing a financial news, stock quote and chat service that seeks to shake up the online finance information market now dominated by Internet media rivals and online brokers.
The web search leader said late on Monday that it has begun offering a trial version of the service called Google Finance that uses a keyword search system to help consumers target information on public and private companies and mutual funds.
Google Finance primarily provides financial news, stock quotes, charts and data. In its trial form, the site is far less comprehensive than established financial sites such as those from Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp.'s MSN America Online's Money & Finance and TheStreet.com.
"We are going to provide quick, easy access to financial information ... by taking complex financial data and making it more digestible," Katie Jacobs Stanton, product manager for Google Finance, said in a phone interview.
The new Google site relies on information from a variety of financial publishers and data providers including Reuters Group Plc, Hoover's Inc., Morningstar Inc., Interactive Data Corp. and Revere Data LLC. Google plans to introduce advertising eventually, Stanton said.
Yahoo Finance, the king of online financial sites offers not only many of the features Google Finance does but also links to stock research, retirement planning, bonds, options and downloadable spreadsheets for making finance calculations.
Peggy White, general manager of Yahoo Inc.'s Yahoo Finance, said the 10-year old finance site is aimed at everyone from entry-level investors to professional money managers.
"The Yahoo Finance customer doesn't have any one given customer profile ... We talk to all clients across the finance spectrum," she said.
FINANCIAL NEWS, QUOTES, BLOGS
Google Finance can be found at http://finance.google.com and links to it appear in a featured area at the top of general Google search results pages when users search for stock or corporate information that appear to be finance related.
Beneath the finance-focused search box at the top of the Google Finance main page are sections that provide summaries of the market, stock quotes and links to news, blogs and moderated-finance group discussions.
One of the more novel features of the site gives users the ability to view financial news alongside historical price charts over various time frames. As the user zooms back in time, the news results change with the date.
The site identifies financial stories within Google News, the company's existing news search site that features articles from roughly 4,500 different sources. By contrast, Yahoo's financial news relies on three dozen top editorial brands.
And while Yahoo was the first of the major Internet sites to incorporate blogging alongside news in its Yahoo News site, Google Finance is first to run blogs alongside financial news.
Matthew Bienfang, a retail brokerage analyst at research firm TowerGroup, said the broad-based financial information sites such as Yahoo or TheStreet.com are chipping away at online brokers such as Charles Schwab Corp., which depend on their sites to attract their core customer base.
"Every time a new online finance portal shows up it challenges the online brokerages, which have much more trouble retaining accounts," Bienfang said.
Other Google features include the ability to set up stock portfolios, track mutual fund performance or connect to other online finance sites, including Yahoo, MSN, Dow Jones' MarketWatch and AOL and regulatory filings from EDGAR Online.
Google will use human editors to help moderate a part of the site called Google Finance Groups. This service relies on the same group discussion technology as Google Groups, which features unedited discussion forums on a myriad of topics.
Google Finance started out as a part-time project by Google engineers working in Bangalore, India, Stanton said.
Financial terms of the deal between Google and Reuters were not disclosed. A Reuters spokesman said the company stands to benefit as customers of Google Finance click on links to Reuters sites seeking deeper information.
Besides links to its news, Reuters supplies some stock quote data on publicly traded companies as well as background summaries, profiles of executives and directors and links to key historical developments that may have affected a stock.
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