As if BlackBerry users needed one more excuse to be glued to their screens, E-Trade Financial Corp. is giving its account holders an application that will let them get real-time stock quotes and trade on their phones.
High-end phone users have for a while been able to access E-Trade's Web site and those of most banks and brokerages, but the online firm is the first major U.S. brokerage to provide a mobile application with cash transfers and real-time quotes.
Online trading through the free application, called E-Trade Mobile Pro, will be much easier than using the Web site through a phone, said E-Trade spokeswoman Pam Erickson. It will allow users to trade stocks and options, set up portfolio watch lists and get news.
The software will be available as a free download on E-Trade's Web site starting Thursday. It will officially be in "beta," or trial mode, until the end of the month, but Erickson said the beta would be fully functional.
The application will be password-protected. After 5 minutes of inactivity, the password will have to be re-entered. If someone still manages to pick up a mislaid BlackBerry and execute trades on it, E-Trade will cover the losses under its fraud guarantee, Erickson said.
E-Trade went with the BlackBerry for its first application because it's the most popular smart phone system used among the brokerage's customers, Erickson said.
The application may not work with older BlackBerries, but all current models (model numbers starting with 8) should work. BlackBerries are made by Research In Motion Ltd.