Google Finance: Stumbling Out of the Gate

I didn’t have a chance earlier today to test the newly released Google Finance service. Om, whose judgment I trust (even if I do have to beg him for the link love smallicon-793225), says it’s disappointing.

First a word about the finance sites I currently use and then let’s dive into Google Finance.

A Little Background

I am not really an active stock trader these days, but I was back in the mid to late nineties. I told the quick version of my story in an excerpt from my podcast the other day. The bottom line is that I have made a lot of money and lost a lot of money in the stock market. Along the way, I have tried a lot of different financial sites. Some were free, some were made available to me by media companies I provided content for and some I paid for.

Presently, I use two and only two (not counting the brokerage sites where I do my trading, but which I use only lightly for research). My Yahoo, where I track the market and my stocks in my left column, and Morningstar, where I do a lot of my research (Disclosure: I have owned Morningstar stock since the IPO).

So lets take a look, in real time, at Google Finance.

Initial Impressions

The front page looks desolate. What is appealing about Google’s search page doesn’t work here. I see a link to add stocks to your portfolio, but unless it’s well hidden I see no way to add stocks other than one at a time.

Some sort of import feature is a must in future releases.

I added a few stocks, all but one (Google) of which I actually own. The Ajaxy entry screen is fast, but there needs to be a way to import portfolios. Once more- there has to be an easier way to add your portfolio.

Oddly enough, your portfolio doesn’t show up on the front page. There is a list of recent quotes you have looked up, but I see no way to personalize the front page. Surely I’m missing something?

What About the Quotes?

OK, so let’s look up a quote. I own AT&T and have been thinking about selling it for a while.

Here’s where Google Finance gets a little more impressive.

The quote info and chart are pretty neat. I love the way the times of the news stories are reflected on the chart. The news story links are logically placed and easy to access. I like the blog post links at the bottom, but I don’t read blogs for stock buying ideas.

Message Board into Chaos

There are message boards (called discussions) that you can join or start, and I can imagine a horde of pumpers and dumpers lining up outside the walls. There do seem to be some safeguards in place and one of the current pump and dump favorites did not have a link to join or create a discussion.

But I can tell you from vast experience that these message boards will rapidly descend into chaos and will become useless in short order. I predict they’ll kill them all off within a year.

At first I didn’t see links to major holders, insider sales and SEC filings, all of which are available at Yahoo, but there they are at the bottom left of the screen. I wish there was a Morningstar link down there.

Conclusions

My initial conclusion is that Google Finance is underwhelming as far as customization goes, but that the data returned when you lookup a quote is reasonably impressive.

Om’s right, however, when he says “[I]t will be a long time, and I mean long time in Internet years that is, before Google Finance really catches up to Yahoo Finance, which in fact is the gold standard.”

This might be a good service one day, but Google has a long way to go and a lot of catching up to do.More concerning to me is Google’s recent tendency to toss up “me-too” services that replicate, often poorly, what others are already doing. I expect innovation from Google, not imitation and mediocrity.Tags: