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InfoSpace to offer free stock quotes

In an effort to one-up its competition in the content aggregation market, InfoSpace will offer real-time stock quotes to Netizens for free.

In an attempt to one-up its competition, Net directory InfoSpace today announced that it will start offering real-time stock quotes for free.

Although many services, such as Yahoo and Excite, offer free stock quotes, they are mostly delayed. Netizens who want up-to-the-second stock information generally have to pay a subscription fee.

In the fight to be the home page for as many Netizens as possible, companies have been playing a high-stakes poker game, continually upping the ante with features such as free email, personalization, and community.

Naveen Jain, president and chief executive of InfoSpace, calls these extras "sticky features," meaning they are offered to get users to visit often and stay as long as possible.

The companies that win the battle for the home page--and most analysts suggest that there will be only a handful of leaders--will be able to use their market share to charge advertisers big bucks.

But the stakes just keep getting higher. Sites must continually offer more freebies--such as free email, which was once considered a value-add--just to stay in the game.

InfoSpace throwing free real-time stock quotes on the table raises the bar yet again.

Next week, InfoSpace will add free email and free space for personal Web pages--features that many other sites already offer.

Jain said that even if other sites match InfoSpace's free-quotes offer, InfoSpace will be in a leadership position because it was the first in its market to do so.

"The people who launched first, like [free email provider] Hotmail, they have 12 million members," he said. "Just the fact that you're first in the market, you build a tremendous lead. Being first is important. Being always on your toes is important."

Jain is hoping people will come to InfoSpace for the quotes and be drawn in by its other financial offerings.

Netizens are increasingly turning to the Internet for their personal finance fixes and companies are falling all over themselves trying to develop the best and, ultimately, the most lucrative sites.

For instance, today Bloomberg and Women.com struck a deal to launch the Money Channel on Women's Wire, the most established site for women on the Net.

The deal is aimed at tapping into the female market interested in finance.

Also today, America Online announced a deal to have Intuit provide finance content to the Personal Finance Web Channel on AOL.com. The company also will contribute to AOL's proprietary service, especially in the tax, mortgage, and insurance categories.