The Internet has given so many people a window onto the greater world, with a multitude of views unavailable to them prior to the Web - unless they happened to be globetrotters or lifetime scholars. A relatively recent window opening on the Web seemingly inflamed the public's desire to become active stock-market investors. Prior to, say, the mid-1970s, anyone wishing to start investing in the stock market needed to first have money they could afford to lose and secondly have or establish a relationship with a stock broker. A great number of people who could meet the first requirement didn't reside anywhere near a stock brokerage, rendering the second step impossible.
Thanks to the Web and the advent of day-trading, anyone with cash and access to a computer (frequently available where stock brokers remain unknown) can begin "playing the market." One of the most valuable services investors can tap into on the Web are the stock quotes offered by various sites. Not all of them are equal, by any means, so do your research. Contrast their offerings against those of other sites. Compare stock quotes to see if they match. See if what's available free will work for you as well as what you are being asked to pay for.
The most exciting development in Web services pertaining to stock quotes was the recent launch of Xignite's GlobalRealTime, a new service that makes it easier and more affordable to get real-time stock quotes from securities exchanges around the world. Previously, applications developers and Websites alike faced a discouraging number of obstacles in the way of powering their applications with Level 1 stock quotes. XigniteGlobalRealTime has done away with all flaming hoops and hurdles to be jumped.
By providing usage-based pricing and eliminating data-management costs, Xignite has made it possible for smaller companies and investor groups to access only the real-time data they want, when they want it. Which makes them competitive with far bigger players.
For many investors the difference between real-time stock quotes and delayed stock quotes is the difference between profit and loss. Thus, any Website whose services include providing real-time stock quotes is worth paying for - if the cost is affordable. A great number of Websites have so much invested in hardware, software, and on-site data management services that only well-heeled individuals and already-successful businesses can afford their necessarily high fees.