As far as free financial services go, Google Finance is a bit of a latecomer, often seen compared to its chief rivals in Yahoo Finance and Microsoft Network (MSN) Money. Here are some things that Google's stock service does well and not-so-well against its competitors.
If it's from Google, it's free — Like most of Google's other services, Google Finance is free to use.
Simple is best — While Google Finance's charts and stock quotes aren't as detail-heavy as those on other financial websites, they're a lot easier to read and work with as a result.
On-target stats — In general, Google Finance's stock quotes are slightly more accurate and timely than those on other free financial sites, though none of these websites are perfect in that regard.
Who's looking for your business? — One unique thing that Google Finance brings to the table is the power of Google's search engine. By searching "Domestic Trends", you can see what businesses and sectors people are interested in by how many times they've shown up on Google Search lately.
Take your finances wherever you go — Google Finance allows you to save a version of your financial portfolio to your computer, allowing you to take it almost anywhere that you need it, even in a place where you can't get an Internet connection.
You might be a little late to the party — One of the drawbacks of Google Finance being a free-to-use website is that not all of its information is updated in real time; some of it usually updates once every 20 minutes or so. This makes it a little less reliable if you're trying to track stock quotes that fluctuate frequently.
Interface is a tad cluttered — Some people point out that Google Finance's interface is overly simple. While some people like this, others say that it makes Google Finance more difficult to navigate than some of its competitors that have more user-friendly designs (like those that attempt to mimic newspapers).
Expect to click around a lot — Stock quotes on Google Finance are usually just a series of individual pages with links to other information, unlike its competitors, who may be more comprehensive in terms of the types of stock information they put on a page.
The Bottom Line: 7.5/10
Google Finance is like many of Google's other services: it does what you need it to do quickly, efficiently, and for free. Its interface is simple and easy to use, if lacking in detail. It allows you to check what (kinds of) businesses people are searching for, and allows you to take your stock portfolio wherever you go without needing an Internet connection. Its information is also a little bit more reliable than that of its competitors.
One of its two main drawbacks is that its charts and company (stock) information aren't as detailed as they are on some of its competitors' websites. Its other main drawback is that, as a free service, not all of its market information is updated in real time. This can make a critical difference in the case of some stock quotes that fluctuate frequently.
Overall, Google Finance is good for quick market updates, quick company (stock) information searches, and a bit of popularity information that you can't get anywhere else. If you're looking for more detail or accuracy, though, consider using one of Google Finance's rival free services, or look into a paid financial management service.