I love the smell of inevitability in the morning!

Three weeks ago, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) announced that its finance site would get free access to real-time share-price updates from Nasdaq (NASDAQ:NDAQ). Unlike Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO) Finance, which gets its live pricing data from a third-party source, Google, along General Electric's (NYSE:GE) CNBC unit and News Corp.'s (NYSE:NWS) Wall Street Journal, grabbed their digits straight from the source -- the Nasdaq exchange itself.

You just knew that the NYSE Euronext (NYSE:NYX) exchange, lagging behind the competition in providing investor-friendly market data, couldn't sit and stew for very long with PR egg on its face. So today, the Big Board signed its own free-data deal with Google and CNBC. It just had to happen.

AMEX data is still delayed by the standard 20 minutes, which is about how long I think that the smallest of the major American exchanges will wait before inking a third supplier pact.

These days, when nearly every site a casual Web browser is likely to visit comes with an assortment of up-to-the-nanosecond Web 2.0 gizmos and live data feeds, it's just silly to expect consumers to be satisfied with even slightly outdated information. Time is money, as the old saw goes, and that's especially true in the lightning-fast equities markets. Price changes happen so fast that a couple of minutes' delay can add up to lost opportunities very quickly.

Not that The Motley Fool advocates minute-by-minute trading, with your nose pressed to the ticker tape -- but individual investors should have access to the same quality of data that the professionals use. And going through the hassle of logging in to our brokerage accounts every time we want a fresh stock quote isn't much more appealing.

Google is leading the way to better and fresher financial information, consistent with its mission to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful." What impresses me the most is that the company is sticking to its vision even on behalf of a finance site that never gained much traction.

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