Intuit has launched an updated QuickBooks Desktop app marketplace, a website where users of QuickBooks desktop products (Windows versions only) can go to find add-on applications that have been approved by Intuit. You can find this at https://desktop.apps.com/home. I consider this to be a major, exciting development in support of QuickBooks for Windows.
Charlie Russell will be presenting the session, Recent Developments in QuickBooks and Looking Ahead, at Accountex 2016.
Is QuickBooks for Windows Dead? No!
There has been a lot of discussion in recent years about Intuit’s focus on QuickBooks Online, and whether QuickBooks desktop is a dead product. Intuit pushes QuickBooks Online strongly, and updated versions of QuickBooks desktop are coming out with fewer and fewer new features.
Along with this, for many years now the Intuit Marketplace (where Intuit listed desktop add-on applications) has been ignored by Intuit, and fallen into disrepair. Features in the website stopped working, such as the ability to search for an application. Developers who had products listed there (such as myself) found it difficult, if not impossible, to update their product listings. Some companies that were listed were no longer in business! Developers who created new applications could not get their products added. Users haven’t been able to add product reviews since about 2012, so all of the reviews were old and outdated.
To make matters worse, Intuit discontinued Intuit Sync Manager, which is the newer programming interface that Intuit strongly pushed add-on developers to use for integrating their products with QuickBooks.
It is no wonder that QuickBooks desktop users, as well as developers of add-on products, feared that Intuit was ready to kill QuickBooks Pro, Premier, and possibly Enterprise.
However, there are signs that Intuit is still interested in keeping these products alive, at least for the near future:
- I wrote about this a few years ago, when Intuit tried to make it clear that they still supported the Windows version of QuickBooks. They consider the desktop version to be an integral part of the QuickBooks ecosystem. They have been very consistently expressing this message ever since that time.
- The creation of this new Apps for QuickBooks Desktop website is a significant sign of Intuit’s interest in sustaining QuickBooks for Windows. As I’ll discuss below they are expending a considerable effort in building an updated, useful listing of compatible applications.
- In their recent 2016 Annual Investor Day presentation, Intuit presented the following slide, indicating that “Desktop” revenue remains steady and significant, and that they project this to continue into the near future. Note that “SBG Online” is the Small Business Group online products (QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Self Employed, etc.), “TT Online” is Turbo Tax Online, and “Desktop” probably includes products in addition to QuickBooks, such as the desktop versions of Turbo Tax. In another slide, Intuit broke out QuickBooks Desktop revenue separately, and that revenue actually increased this year!
At this time, I am not going to go into an in-depth analysis of this chart, or other statements by Intuit at the Investor Day presentations. I’ll be digging into that in more detail next month in my presentation at Accountex 2016, and blog articles after that.
What all this makes clear to me is that in spite of people’s fears, QuickBooks Desktop will be around for many more years. It certainly won’t be the product that Intuit emphasizes or tries to push everyone to use, but they recognize that this product is still important to many users who either have more complex needs, or who just aren’t ready to move to the cloud.
One point of clarification – when I talk about QuickBooks Desktop I am referring to the Windows products, not QuickBooks for Mac. It isn’t clear to me at this time what the future is for the Mac product, which wasn’t updated this year. I’ll be digging into that in the near future.
QuickBooks Desktop App Marketplace
Let’s take a quick look at the new Apps for QuickBooks Desktop website. Note that this site has just been released, and it is very complex. There may be a few things that don’t quite work as expected, but Intuit is working the kinks out.
- Filters allow you to locate the kind of product that you are looking for. You can: select by QuickBooks product (most apps will work with all versions of QuickBooks); look for just those products created by Intuit or by third party developers; and choose by business function or by industry. I always get frustrated by “business function” filters because they never seem to provide the ones that I have in mind. How about “data import/export” for example? Those seem to be under “Data Sync” in this website. That said, Intuit does a reasonable job in providing categories here. The only thing to watch for is that you can check multiple options, and sometimes you may forget to turn off an option as you try different things. If you end up with an empty list of apps, make sure you don’t have too many filter options selected.
- You can sort the results by relevance, newest, alphabetically, or by popularity. I’m not sure how they measure “relevance,” but I do use the “newest” and “alphabetically” options. “Popularity” won’t become useful until they start to get a good number of reviews. In addition, this area shows you which filter options you have selected, which is very helpful.
- The search box is very useful if you are looking for a particular feature. This didn’t work well in the old app marketplace. This appears to search through all of the text in the product descriptions, which I like.
- There is a compare feature that lets you select up to four products by checking their compare boxes, and then view a side-by-side comparison by clicking the Compare button.
Here’s a sample of a compare between two products. Keep in mind that the developers choose what information goes into this screen. Also note that the website had only been live for one or two days at the time I took this screen shot, so there hasn’t been time for any reviews to accumulate. I really like this feature.