QuickBooks for Mac
I have a confession. When I think of “QuickBooks desktop” I always think of the Windows versions of the product. I’ve never been a “Mac person,” I’m totally immersed in the world of Microsoft Windows. However, Intuit has the QuickBooks for Mac product, and there are many loyal users.
Looking at QuickBooks for Mac, I think it is very telling that there was no QuickBooks for Mac 2017 product. The current version is QuickBooks for Mac 2016.
It also is important to note that there is no external programming interface for the Mac product, so there cannot be any third-party products developed for QuickBooks for Mac.
So what do I see in the future for QuickBooks for Mac?
- I predict that there will continue to be maintenance releases to the current product, fixing problems and possibly handling operating system changes, but only for a few more years.
- I suspect that we will see some additional Intuit-produced “attachments” to work with QuickBooks for Mac, such as QuickBooks Financing.
- I believe that QuickBooks for Mac 2016 is the last major release. I don’t expect another version to be produced. Given Intuit’s normal “sunset” policies, that would indicate that QuickBooks for Mac will be discontinued in 2019.
Please note that this is speculation on my part. I don’t have any “inside information” about this product. Intuit really didn’t want to talk to me about this product when I was interviewing people for this article series. I could be wrong, we’ll have to wait and see.
Update 3/1/2017: Just as I predicted, today Intuit told ProAdvisors that there will be no new version of QuickBooks for Mac on the desktop. The 2016 version is the last, and support will expire on May 31 2019.
The type of business user that Intuit targets with QuickBooks for Mac is very similar to their target for the core version of QuickBooks Online – small, service-oriented businesses. There is a lot of overlap here. It doesn’t make sense to me that they would have two products aimed at the same demographics.
I lump these two products together, although there are significant differences between them. QuickBooks Pro is much more like QuickBooks Online as far as features, and particularly as to the target business type. Usually when people make the case for why the desktop product is so much better than the online product, they are referring to features found in QuickBooks Premier.
What has been going on with QuickBooks Pro and Premier lately?
- There definitely has been a slowdown in the number of new features that come out every year. I used to have to publish two weeks-worth of blog articles to cover all the new features that were released every Fall, now I’m down to just about two articles. If you look at QuickBooks 2017, there really was only one new feature of any significance, Scheduled Reports.
- Intuit is focusing on improving reliability and security in these products. Lots of things have been improved “under the hood” that you might not see.
- Intuit tells me that sales of Pro/Premier are relatively flat. Earlier I talked about the increase in revenue for desktop products. That increase isn’t coming from Pro and Premier.
- Intuit continues to support these products with an intelligent and well-grounded management and development team. I spend a lot of time talking to these people, and I believe that the products are in good hands.
So, where do I see these products going?
- Security, compliance and performance will continue to be a focus for development. Intuit wants to ensure that they produce the most solid product that they can.
- After that, Intuit will continue to work on ensuring that all capabilities in the product function properly. The advantage to releasing fewer new features every year is that they can provide a quick response to customer issues.
- Intuit will continue to expand and enhance the integration with QuickBooks Payments. This is a significant source of revenue for them, plus it exposes desktop users to the benefits of working with an online feature.
- I expect to see more “attachments,” since that is the key to their success. Look for integration with QuickBooks Financing, for example.
- I wonder, will they move completely to a subscription pricing model for Pro and Premier? Intuit says that they have no plans for this. However, they already have subscription pricing available in the QuickBooks Pro Plus and QuickBooks Premier Plus programs, for QuickBooks Accountant, and of course for QuickBooks Enterprise. Intuit really likes having products on a subscription basis rather than on a unit purchase basis. I will also note that starting very recently they only sell by subscription in the United Kingdom.
- This is totally speculation on my part, with no clues from Intuit, but I wonder if they will eventually drop QuickBooks Pro while keeping QuickBooks Premier? Pro is much closer in features to QuickBooks Online, while Premier is the product for businesses with advanced needs. Maybe? Probably not soon, if at all. I don’t have any figures on revenue that separates QuickBooks Pro from QuickBooks Premier.
Last September, when Intuit rolled out the 2017 desktop products, I was very surprised to see that there were no new features that were introduced in QuickBooks Enterprise. What did that mean? Was Enterprise being abandoned? Then I was surprised to hear that all of the Enterprise development engineers that I knew had either moved over to the QuickBooks Online team, or left the company. What was going on?
As I started digging in to this, I came up with a few points that made me feel better:
- The revenue growth shown in my charts for QuickBooks Desktop came primarily from QuickBooks Enterprise.
- Intuit tells me that QuickBooks Enterprise customers are more likely to purchase “attachments” than QuickBooks Pro and Premier users. Recall that revenue from “attachments” is very, very significant to Intuit.
- While the engineering contacts that I had for QuickBooks Enterprise were no longer working on that product (and I’ll admit, I don’t think I knew them all), Intuit has brought in a new, enthusiastic development team for Enterprise. This is one of those good news, bad news situations, I guess. The bad news is that you have people who don’t understand the “history” of the product, who don’t know the market it addresses. On the other hand, this could be very good news because now you have people who are coming in with fresh new ideas on how the product can be expanded and developed. To be honest, after talking to some members of the new team, I think that this bodes well for QuickBooks Enterprise.
- Although there weren’t any significant new features in the 2017 release of Enterprise, there was a lot of under-the-cover work on improving security, reliability, compliance and performance for the product. It is still early to tell how well this has worked out, but it does make a lot of sense for the new team to clean up these kinds of issues before working on new features.
So, now I’m feeling better about the future for QuickBooks Enterprise.
Looking forward, I see:
- There will be an increased focus on QuickBooks Enterprise compared to what we’ve had lately.
- I wonder where Enterprise pricing will go? I think that the number of customers stayed fairly constant, so does that leave the door open for price increases? Despite all the complaints about the change to subscription pricing, Intuit didn’t appear to lose a lot of customers here. I also wonder if we are going to see a return to bundled pricing where some new features might be available for a separate subscription price, like we used to see with Advanced Inventory? I have no information on this, I’m just speculating.
- As with QuickBooks Pro and Premier, I expect to see more “attachment” integration, such as QuickBooks Financing.
- We are going to see more new features coming out in the future. Intuit understands that there is a lot of interest in inventory-related features on the part of QuickBooks Enterprise customers. I hope to see more inventory features, better handling of order fulfillment, and I really hope that there will be improvements in in-product reporting.
Wrapping It All Up
This concludes my “state of the union” presentation on the QuickBooks product line. I hope that this generates a lot of discussion – please leave comments about what you think I got right, where I’m wrong, and what you would like to see Intuit do. Your comments can impact the products, as I believe Intuit keeps an eye on these articles.
And, keep in mind that a lot of my conclusions are speculation on my part. I did spend a lot of time interviewing various Intuit employees, and I’ve been covering the company in articles for many years now, but Intuit is very good about keeping details of their plans very private.
They key points that I’ve tried to make in this series are:
- The QuickBooks Online ecosystem is clearly the focus of the future for Intuit. This includes QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Online Accountant and QuickBooks Self-Employed.
- Mobile computing is a major thrust along all online products. “Mobile First” is their battle cry.
- Keep an eye on “Machine Learning.” I truly believe that this is the concept that will be transformational for the company and the products. Machine learning is what will make online accounting software more than just a cloud-based program that does the same thing we have been doing all along on the desktop.
- QuickBooks Online Accountant is going to be the accountant’s home base, and become more of a practice management tool.
- QuickBooks Self-Employed is a growing product that will be a significant part of Intuit’s future. Intuit has a unique set of skills, knowledge and products that gives them the best chance for succeeding in this marketplace.
- QuickBooks Desktop (for Windows) is not dead yet, but QuickBooks Enterprise is where all the fun new developments will show up.