So Google finally launched the much-ballyhooed Google Finance. Two months ago, before the bloom fell off the Google rose, this move would have been greeted with near-universal conviction that Yahoo! Finance et al had minutes to live. Now, the reaction seems appropriately reasonable and subdued: "Nice concept, now show us how you're going to do it better."
The answer to this question, unfortunately, is not evident on the site. The Google Finance beta landing page couldn't be less revolutionary: Market quotes and business news. Some writers tell of stock charts with embedded explanations of price-moving events, but if so, these are nowhere in evidence. In fact, the beta page is so spartan that, upon viewing it, a curious Yahoo! Finance user could be forgiven for wondering if his or her browser failed to load properly. Even Google fanatics will probably scratch their heads and think, "Years in the making, and this is the best they could do?"
Which isn't to say that, eventually, Google won't figure out some cool gizmos that put Yahoo! et al to shame. If they do, this will be good for Yahoo! users, as Yahoo! will be forced to implement them. Whether the gizmos entice Yahoo! users to switch sites, however--and reprogram their stock portfolios, news screens, and other customized features in the process--is another question. Based on the current beta, the answer for most Yahoo! users would probably be "no."
Bottom line, it will likely be far more difficult for Google to steal share in personal finance than it was in search. And given Google's enormous revenue base, anything less than total market domination in personal finance would barely register on the revenue scale. So it's not surprising that, having seen this latest beta, investors aren't falling all over themselves to get back on the Google bandwagon.
After reading the first few comments here, I tried the beta again, this time typing in a couple of stock symbols. Verdict? Very cool charts. Let us hope that Yahoo! has learned its lesson from the search wars and realizes that it has the equivalent of a few minutes to fix this before the finance industry switches to Google. The beta entry page still has miles to go, as does the section's user-friendliness, but the company pages are good and the charts are great.
Terry? David? Jerry? You folks listening? Get your chart people on this immediately, or your richest, most valuable finance user base (Wall Street) will vaporize, even if the average My Yahoo user doesn't.
Sergey? Larry? Eric? You folks listening? Time to take the tiny step of adding some helpful text to your new pages. How about welcoming the new user, helping them out a bit? If you're going to care enough to brief the media and bloggers about your new products, how about briefing your users? This wouldn't be selling out.
That little "blog post" feature in Google Finance is a traffic firehose. Here I am, bashing away (initially), and suddenly the traffic starts gushing in from the Google Finance Google page. Business bloggers are going to love this.
Reader "Ben," a Wall Street analyst, weighs in with several positive thoughts about the beta, along with an explanation about why he and his colleagues are about to switch. If folks in the Yahoo! Finance department aren't buzzing around figuring out how soon they can duplicate all this, they'd better start buzzing. One glance at some of the charts, blog-links, etc., and you both cheer for the consumer-benefits of capitalism and wonder how on earth Yahoo!'s team could be so asleep at the switch. It's not as though they haven't had 6-12 months of warning.