Wasting no time reaching out to Microsoft Vista early adopters, Fidelity has released a Market Monitor gadget that Vista-using investors can use to keep an eye on their stocks. Gadgets are always-on mini-applications such as games, live webcams and traffic maps that can be downloaded free at www.gallery.live.com and sit in the miniature portal "Sidebar" section at the right of the Vista desktop screen. (Fidelity also offers its gadget at www.fidelity.com/beta.) The Fidelity gadget provides watch lists and stock charts similar to those at Yahoo Finance, but with Fidelity branding and graphics - stocks whose price has risen a lot, for instance, are shown in bright green, small price increases are darker green, black is neutral and stocks that are dropping are shown in various shades of red. Users pick any 25 securities to follow. For Macintosh users, Fidelity offers similar tools as a downloadable widget.What the Vista platform makes possible that the Mac and earlier Windows environments don't is expansion and contraction of the gadget - it can appear as a very small window in the Vista Sidebar or it can be dragged into the middle of the desktop for a larger view. Users can also click through to the Fidelity website for more detailed information.
"We're providing a whole other level of convenience for large numbers of end users," says Charles Berman, senior vice-president of Fidelity eBusiness. "We provide a rich experience at Fidelity.com, but in today's world the ability to see exactly what you're looking for very quickly is of prime importance and this is a window into the market as you follow it. For computer users, we think the way to be closest to your consciousness at all times is to have something that lives on your desktop."
No doubt more brokerage firms will follow Fidelity's example and take advantage of Microsoft's Vista gadgets as part of their overall online strategy.