Google plans to launch today a financial news and information website called Google Finance, which will be in direct competition with well-established ones such as Yahoo Finance and Microsoft's MSN Money.
Development of such a website has been one of the top requests from Google users, said Katie Jacobs Stanton, a Google senior product manager.
Google hopes to differentiate its site with better search functionality and a higher level of interactivity in its financial charts, she said. The site is slated to be operational early today.
The launch of this site is also bound to revive the controversy over whether Google is morphing into a web portal, a label Google has resisted even as it offers content and services that put it in competition with Yahoo.com and MSN.com.
Yahoo CEO Terry Semel has openly mocked Google's ambitions to be a reluctant provider of web portal content and services, saying that in that broader space, it lacks the clout and dominance it clearly enjoys in the search-engine market.
Semel will probably notice one effect from Google Finance: fewer referrals to his company's financial site. Until now, when a user enters a stock ticker symbol, Google has chosen Yahoo Finance as its default primary link in the stock summary box it delivers at the top of search results, Jacobs Stanton said. As of today, Google Finance will be the default, she said. However, Yahoo Finance, MSN Money and other prominent sites of this nature will continue to be featured in Google search results.
Google Finance will include information from public sources, as well as data that Google has licensed from content providers such as Reuters and Morningstar. It will include links to news articles, graphs, company profiles, financial tables, blog postings, discussion groups and links to other websites. Graphs charting historical stock price fluctuations will include links to relevant events affecting the stock's value.
Google has no current plans to display ads on Google Finance. All information on the site will be free of charge, a Google spokeswoman said.