When Google Finance launched in March its very existence brought into sharp relief everything that was wrong with Yahoo!'s market-leading offering - (much) better charting, aggregated blog posts around individual companies and intuitive natural language search made it obvious that Yahoo! Finance was indulging in a spot of laurel-resting, and had been for some time. Ex-Yahoo-er Jeremy Zawodny even commented on the fact that a lot of the better features of Google Finance has been in the pipeline at Yahoo! for in some cases a number of years, but had never made it out of the blueprint stage.
Now four months later Yahoo! Finance has responded (TechCrunch), with better charting and video content (CNet) bringing many of its core features at least up to date but revamped message board creating a generally negative impression according to Rafat. Having spent a few years working in broking technology it's clear to me that Google's interactive charting with new overlays still has the edge in terms of its usefulness for actually making investment decisions...but still, Yahoo! is getting there.
Where Google very clearly still has the absolute upper hand is in the natural language search. I said when Google Finance launched that this would prove the crucial differentiator - in the short term, it isn't enough to make hardened investors move their portfolio over (Charlene Li), but in the longer term it will capture the imagination of new investors who simply won't accept that they have to learn hundreds of ticker symbols or navigate multiple look-up tables before they can really begin to do anything. This is where Google continues to trounce Yahoo! in the finance stakes - not surprisingly, in the area of search. Google's advantage isn't one that will bring them any immediate gains, since today's crop of investors are wearily habituated to typing in ticker symbols rather than searching via natural language - it's the next generation of investors who will find that compromise bizarre and intolerable and use the Google system for finding equities where everything is familiarly intuitive.
Finally - the feature that allows bloggers/publishers to add stocks, news and charts to their own sites is a nice Glocery "seeder of clouds" touch
but I can't see how it's not in breach of the various licenses Yahoo!
will necessarilly have in place with the stockmarkets that
primarily provide their price data. Perhaps they have cracked a licensing problem that no other finance website - including, if I recall correctly, Yahoo! itself when it abandonded the RSS shareprice feeds - has ever been able to resolve. The fact that only US stocks are included almost inclines me to the view that this time Yahoo! has cracked it. If so, it's a huge - if probably very expensive - brand syndication opportunity for Yahoo! that few will be able to replicate, as well as a fundamental shift in the mentalities of some very important global stock exchanges. If not, it seems very likely that those features will be gone in a matter of days or weeks leaving behind some irritated bloggers with irritating holes in their blogs.