My Quicken Prediction

I recently got a fully loaded Mac Mini to replace my Windows computer, and soon I won’t have any clunky box sitting under my desk. I installed Parallels so I could run Windows in a Window, and now my desktop looks largely like this (although I’m not running Linux on it).

The primary reason I need that Windows VM running, aside from the fact that it’s probably just a prudent thing to have, is Quicken. Quicken comes pre-installed on Macs, but if you read the user reviews at Amazon, you’ll see that it is pretty much universally panned. It has very little in common with Quicken for Windows. It doesn’t look like it, feel like it, have the same capabilities, nor can it import all of your Quicken for Windows data.

Here’s my prediction for Quicken… admittedly not a bold one. Intuit is working on a web-based version of Quicken. With all the Web 2.0 apps out there, if they don’t build it, someone else will. When it comes out, they can (and should) kill the Mac version, and tout the web version as their solution for all non-Windows users. The Windows version will live on for longer than it probably ought to, because they won’t solve the offline access problem in their web product. That problem would probably be unacceptable by their hardcore Windows base.

I don’t think it’s a very bold prediction, given what they did with TurboTax this year. I used TurboTax for the web, and didn’t even consider buying a boxed version that I’d have to install. I don’t know how much longer they really want to make boxed versions of TurboTax… especially considering they are basically writing the same app twice (once fo the web, and once for the desktop). It also solves their licensing problems – because they control access to the online software. They were so concerned about piracy a few years ago that they introduced an activation scheme for TurboTax that was so restrictive and confusing that it pissed off a lot of people (they subsequently removed that scheme).

What I’d love to see is some competition in this area… a startup that could crank out a web-based version of Quicken before Intuit does. The biggest hurdles would be ensuring that you can import people’s existing Quicken data, and developing the database of financial institutions to sync to (which may not be hard, since there are some open source projects that do this already). You’d also have to convince people that you’re keeping their most personal data secure. If there are no signs of a web-based Quicken by years end, I will be disappointed in 2 ways: 1) I won’t have Quicken on my Mac, and 2) I will regret not having founded such a startup.

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