A Bloomberg terminal is a computer system that allows investors to access the Bloomberg data service, which provides real-time financial data, news feeds, messages and also facilitates the placement of financial transactions. Bloomberg charges a monthly fee, with the proprietary computer system beginning around $22,500 per user per year.

Breaking Down Bloomberg Terminal

Bloomberg terminals are one of the main product offerings from Bloomberg L.P., and it is one of the most heavily used and highly regarded professional investment systems to be created for the financial marketplace. Institutional investors are the typical customers of this product since the relatively high ongoing cost makes it unfeasible for individual investors with relatively small amounts of capital to purchase.

The system provides news, price quotes, and messaging across its proprietary secure network. It is well-known among the financial community for its black interface, which is not optimized for user experience but has become a recognizable trait of the service. It's not uncommon to see Bloomberg's rather bland visuals carried into their television station, although they round their media empire out with visually rich content in their flagship magazine: Bloomberg Businessweek.

The Bloomberg terminal, from the perspective of the end-user, is a Windows-based application, making it compatible with the popular Excel program, a very important aspect of the system for those in the finance industry. Bloomberg also offers users access to the application online and through mobile devices, via its Bloomberg Anywhere service. For portfolio managers and brokers, having the ability to access real-time market information from almost anywhere in the world, is an incredibly convenient and important advantage of a Bloomberg subscription.

Bloomberg Terminal Competitors

The largest competitor to the Bloomberg terminal is Thomson Reuters, which offers its Reuters 3000 Xtra system, but was replaced by the Eikon platform in 2010. Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters split 30% each of the market shares in 2011. This was a significant improvement for Bloomberg as the share in 2007 was Bloomberg's 26% to Reuters' 36%. The proliferation of big data, analytics, and machine learning looks to cut into Bloomberg's stranglehold on the financial data space.