Financial news service Bloomberg has launched an online app portal that allows third-party developers to integrate data and news from the Bloomberg Professional service into their own software and sell it via an iTunes-style marketplace.
Bloomberg Professional service is one of the most common platforms for financial traders to monitor financial data and trading stocks. The service provides real-time data, news and analytics to more than 310,000 subscribers globally, but is notoriously a very closed system.
In the past, Bloomberg subscribers have had no choice but to use a proprietary terminal, pre-loaded with sanctioned software. However, Bloomberg is now offering an open API that enables the integration of Bloomberg content with third-party applications.
This means that software companies, financial institutions and academics can develop their own apps that run alongside and complement Bloomberg's own professional services within a customisable "Launchpad" workspace.
"If the user likes an application now they can embed it in their Launchpad view and every time they start up Bloomberg, no matter where they are in the world, the application is going to pop up and be fully integrated," said Claudio Storelli, global business manager for Bloomberg App Portal.
There are already more than 45 applications available on the Bloomberg App Portal across a variety of categories, including data analysis, news and research, portfolio management and risk analysis, valuation and pricing, data visualisation and technical analysis.
Storelli said that, just as the retail app stores have democratised the process of selling mobile apps - by giving a voice to developers who lack the marketing clout to create blockbuster products - Bloomberg App Portal will disrupt the competitive dynamics in the financial software space.
"The impact on the industry will be to spur a wave of innovation," he said. "We have companies all over the world that are now getting set up solely for the purpose of creating value for professional investors that have Bloomberg in front of them."
All software applications submitted to the Bloomberg App Portal are reviewed by a team led by Storelli. Once selected, developers receive technical and business support from the Bloomberg team as part of an on-boarding and software quality assurance process, the company said.
Two apps that have already been approved for sale via the Bloomberg App Portal are Genesis Financial Services, which offers a platform that develops and analyses trading strategies, and Updata, which visualises Bloomberg data in the form of graphs and charts.
David Linton, chief executive of Updata, said that when the company was approached by Bloomberg to join the App Portal it jumped at the chance.
"One of the massive issues for us as a company is deployment. When you're dealing with a lot of large institutions, as a smaller company, getting your application approved and into the operation is quite a big issue, so that was really key for us," said Linton.
He added that quite a lot of Bloomberg subscribers already use Updata's software as a standalone product, so preserving the look and feel of the application was important. The app now available on the Bloomberg App Portal looks the same and works in the same way as the original product, but is simply integrated within the Bloomberg environment.
"Although Bloomberg provides a tremendous amount of functionality itself to its community, we don't have a monopoly on innovation," said Stanley Young, chief executive officer of Bloomberg's Enterprise Products and Solutions business.
"I think it's important that we allow third-party innovators through the app portal to bring that innovation and integrate it with our own products and solutions."
Bloomberg takes a 30 percent cut of all apps sold through the App Portal. Most applications can be downloaded and reviewed virtually for a preview period before purchase is required.