Thursday, April 21, 2011

iPad Financial Markets Apps from FOX, Thomson Reuters and NASDAQ OMX

In reviewing broad-based financial markets news and data apps for iPad, I began with the free apps, which include the high quality CNBC Real-Time for the iPad and runner up, Bloomberg for iPad – both of which I reviewed earlier this month.

A second tier (perhaps too harsh of a characterization) of free apps in the same broad-based financial markets space that I experimented with include one app from FOX, two from Thomson Reuters and a more specialized app from the NASDAQ OMX.

My favorite of these near misses is FOX Business for iPad, which is similar to the CNBC and Bloomberg apps in that its focus is on news, video content and market data. The site is attractively organized, has a large amount of up-to-date video content, includes a portfolio tracker function and a FOX Business Minute button which enables users to quickly scan the day’s headlines and link to related video. In sum, the feature-filled FOX app is a strong competitor to CNBC and Bloomberg and will probably be preferred by some to its two main competitors. In the end I am counting it as a near miss because of some content organization and graphics issues. I was also disappointed that FOX Business for iPad did not have the XIV ETF in its database and was therefore unable to add it to my portfolio.

The two Thomson Reuters products struck me as slightly too news and text-centric for my taste. My favorite of the two is Reuters News Pro for iPad, which has a strong global focus in terms of financial and non-financial news. It also puts more emphasis on global markets and currencies than the competition. While this app lacks a formal portfolio management function, it does have an attractive portfolio monitoring module, Stocks, that makes it easy to track various holdings in terms of news and performance, along with charts. For the international investor, I can certainly see where News Pro might supplement or in some cases even win out over the more U.S.-centric CNBC, Bloomberg and FOX apps. I am still not sure exactly which audience the Thomson Reuters Marketboard app is targeting, though it looks as if this app attempts to leverage and extend the functionality and data available to Thomson ONE account holders. In some respects the app strikes me as a potential companion to News Pro. Again there is a strong global data to the content, but the emphasis is more on headlines and snapshots than detailed content. If you are interested in research, company reports and corporate events – and particularly if you are an existing Thomson ONE subscriber – Marketboard should have a good deal of appeal.

Of all the apps in this group that I wanted to get excited about, at the top of my list was QFolio HD – the NASDAQ OMX Portfolio Manager. While apps from individual brokers are great for tracking broker-specific holdings, the functionality I have yet to find is one that deftly aggregates portfolio information across multiple brokers and asset classes. Unfortunately QFolio did not live up to my expectations, though not for lack of trying.

There are three main screens for QFolio: Portfolio; Company Details; and Market Mind. The Portfolio screen includes aggregated portfolio information with total portfolio value. I was disappointed by the fact that the overview screen only has sufficient real estate to display four holdings on one screen at a glance. While scrolling affords quick access to the full list of holdings, it would be nice to have more holdings and less information available on one screen, ideally with this information customizable by the user. The graphic below is a snapshot [with fictitious portfolio data -Ed] of the Company Details data display, which includes links to a StockTwits feed as well as a StockTwits TV video feed. Last but not least is the Market Mind feature, which turns out to be the best way to monitor changes in prices for five or more holdings at a time. Here one can monitor prices, view intraday charts and even view time and sales data. While the current incarnation of QFolio is certainly an adequate portfolio management tool, it has the potential to be even more. I look forward to seeing how this app evolves over time.

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[graphic: QFolio/NASDAQ OMX]

Disclosure(s): long XIV at time of writing

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