When Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) launched Google Finance on March 21, 2006, a number of observers believed the search company was set to compete with the largest financial sites — Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO) Finance and MSN’s and AOL’s (NYSE: AOL) investor sites. If that was the goal, Google Finance has failed. As Google management cuts back nonstrategic operations, the division is likely to go.
Google Finance had less than 1.6 million unique visitors in March, according to Comscore. Yahoo! Finance had 40.5 million. AOL’s Money & Finance had 19.8 million. Google Finance is even smaller than modest-sized sites like Motley Fool and Morningstar.
Google Finance was launched in an era when Google released several products a month. Most were experiments, and many are gone now. Google’s strategic emphasis has moved to improved search, mobile operations, its Android OS and competition with smaller, but faster growing companies like Facebook. Google’s modest businesses are little more than distractions, many of which CEO Larry Page claims he will kill.
Google Finance has one, single advantage. It is largely run by automation. This is good in that it requires little investment and few people. But the paucity of resources means that many of the news features at Google Finance are ill-organized and irrelevant to the typical reader of financial sites. This lack of content relevance likely has turned many business and financial readers away.
Many of the stories that appear at Google Finance also appear at Google News, a business to which the company has an apparent commitment. Google Finance is part of a legacy group of operations that is not likely to survive.
Douglas A. McIntyre