The most significant news in Google’s launch of its finance service is that is licensing content from Reuters.
In each of its other endeavors — search, news, shopping, classifieds — Google has maintained an open, albeit uneven, playing field. That wouldn’t work in the case of finance because Google had to integrate data into its presentation and Reuters was wise and happy to sell it to them.
But what this means is that Google is no longer just an aggregator — which, I’ve argued, is a beneficial thing to be for content holders, because an aggregator makes links and links make traffic — but is now a destination that will hold users in and compete with other content.
Yahoo has been in this position for years, after it stopped being merely a directory and source of links (Jerry Yang once said at a meeting I attended that his job was to get people in and out of Yahoo as quickly as possible; that tune soon changed). Yahoo has licensed Associated Press wire content — over the objection of many of its members, for precisely this reason — and built a destination that tries to both keep people in and link out (see its new and rather uninspired local aggregator). The net result is that Yahoo is less effective at creating linked traffic than other portals.
Watch out as Google creeps, as Yahoo did, into the content business and competes with, instead of merely organizing, content. It’s a momentous move.