The New Yahoo! Finance: More Content! More Interactivity! More Competition?

Yahoo!, besides being a fun company name to type and say, has a reputation for a certain visual consistency. We can all close our eyes and visualize what Yahoo! looks like. That’s why the recent makeover of Yahoo! Finance has a few surprises in store.

What the site is currently most proud to tout is Streaming Quotes, which is actually not quite streaming but auto-updating every so often. True streaming quotes, presumably in ticker form, are available through a paid premium service. Great. Something else to buy.

What’s really fun, though, is the new look at the chart for individual securities. Taking a direct cue from Google Finance, you now get a special Flash window with a chart you can click and follow along with a little dot tracking the price day by day. It’s interactive and, well, very cool. (Google still boasts the lion’s share of the features; recall the nifty mode that links real-world news events to price swings.) Buttons featuring little popups line the bottom and sides, and it comes off cramped, but amusingly so, like a particularly overproduced hour of CNBC programming. The resemblance to Google Finance’s similar tool, though, is hard to ignore; it’s not hard to picture Yahoo!, upset over losing search engine market share, trying to figure out a way to lure eyeballs back. It’s worth noting that when one Googles certain ticker symbols, the first result is the Yahoo! Finance page. There’s a war on here.

Yahoo! Finance is definitely media-rich, in keeping with today’s trends of making sure every inch is crammed with information. Things look more crammed than Google (again with this comparison-it’s hard not to discuss), and organized a little more like a newspaper or magazine, with featured columnists in the middle and more sample text on display. It inspires confidence to see notes from Investor’s Business Daily and brilliant funnyman Ben Stein on-site. A minimalist Google, by contrast, keeps to headlines lined up in an orderly fashion, content be damned.

In the plans released in mid-July 2006 for the redesign, Yahoo! promised video content from around the Web, as well as syndication-ready content and chat rooms in order to build a little finance community-how very Web 2.0. Is the Yahoo! plan to attract focus from Google by creating a space where investors can congregate? The community-moderated, community-defined content notion has worked before; think Flickr or YouTube. If this clicks, what’s next? One envisions a personal-finance equivalent of MySpace, where young and glamorous traders can post photos and their very sexiest charts.

Yahoo! Finance remains the number one site of its kind, but in a way, mentions of Google in its reasoning for the revamp were conspicuous by their absence. The new kid on the block has been identified. Google seems to be concentrating on offering the market snapshot, the big picture, with Yahoo! looking to win in the details. By adding more content, more interactivity and more of everything� well, is more actually more? They seem to think so; this is, after all, the brand with an exclamation point in the name�

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