Intuit is giving some much-needed love to it’s online QuickBooks platform with a series of new updates, including a new developer-friendly app store, cloud storage through Box, and integration with PayPal.
QuickBooks Online hasn’t received much attention over the years. Launched in 2000, it only had 100,000 paid subscribers in 2009, compared to QuickBooks’ four million desktop subscribers. However, Intuit says at the end of last year they acquired a higher number of users online than on desktop — marking a shift in consumers.
Now the company is rolling out all sorts of features to their online product.
“Where we really lagged was in developer experience,” Dan Wernikoff, head of Intuit’s Small Business Group, told VentureBeat. He said that while developers could always develop apps for QuickBooks Online, Intuit didn’t make it easy.
So far Intuit’s app store hosts some 300 apps and allows for easy integration across mobile and Web platforms. The company is also giving developers a sandbox to test out new app ideas and allowing them to better integrate with its payment platform with a new payment API.
It’s no wonder Intuit is make a dev-centric push. The company needs programmers to make cool apps for its software platform in order to stay relevant against its more developer-minded competition.
While Wernikoff tells me that the hard push towards Intuit’s online products has nothing to do with the competition, it would be difficult to ignore the rising number of back-office providers popping up. Xero, for instance, is a QuickBooks competitor that operates entirely in the cloud and is very developer friendly. There are also upstarts like payment processor Square, which has been quickly rolling out small business products like appointments and invoicing and is rumored to be piloting a payroll service.
In addition to developers, QuickBooks is also rolling out some new tools for accountants. This is where Box integration comes in. Accountants and small business owners will get 10 gigabytes of storage on Box as a part of QuickBooks Online package.
Through the new app store, users will be able to integrate with PayPal and Square for payment processing. Intuit is also offering its own full-service payroll solution for the first time.
Much of the focus of its new line of accounting services is around automation. For instance, books are automatically updated when invoices are paid or deposits are made. The company is also offering a new Self Employed package that helps separate personal and business finances by connecting directly to a person’s bank account — very similar to online budgeting tool Mint or Yodlee.
It’s interesting that Intuit is rolling out so many new features, especially its focus on opening up the platform to developers. Because of the company’s vast user base, it often doesn’t feel the need to compete with the (sometimes more technologically intrepid) little guys. That Intuit is seeing consumer interest shift towards more multifunctional cloud office software means they may have to work a little harder to stay at the top in coming years.