The New York Stock Exchange announced today that, like rival exchange NASDAQ, it’s making real-time stock quotes available to web and media companies. Previously, anyone who wanted NYSE quotes that weren’t delayed by at least a few minutes had to get them through brokerages or subscription services; starting today, users can just go to Google Finance or CNBC.com. They can also get real-time quotes on their mobile phones via CNBC Mobile or Google’s mobile alerts.

Casual investors may not notice a difference, since the quotes themselves will look exactly the same, as will the portfolio widget that you can place on your iGoogle homepage — but you can feel better about the reliability of that information, since it won’t be 15 or 20 minutes behind.

At a time when so much else on the web is practically instantaneous, it seems a bit silly that people had to pay for a special service to track something as important and potentially volatile as their investments in real-time. With both NASDAQ and the NYSE (the two largest stock exchanges in the United States) on-board with this new model, those are days pretty much over.

It may look look like the NYSE is just being a copycat, since NASDAQ announced similar deals earlier this month. The press release, however, says the idea was first proposed at the beginning of 2007, and wasn’t approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission — for a four-month pilot period — until last week.

CNET reports that Yahoo Finance offers real-time quotes too, but through a deal with a subscription service called BATS Trading, rather than the stock exchanges themselves. So if you want to watch the current jump in Yahoo stock, you can track it on either Google or Yahoo.

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