As most people know, I’m a big Apple evangelist. So I was excited when my friend Jim asked me to help him start switching over to Mac. He had been having tons of problems with his Windows based machines, and he noted that everyone around him that seemed to know something about computers, seem to be switching to Mac.
Jim’s QuickBooks Dilemma
Jim was in his 60’s, so I knew there would be some challenges in porting him over to a new way of doing things. A new style of word processor, a new spreadsheet application, and even a new way to send and receive emails. But I was confident that he would pick up these more intuitive programs quickly. Then came the big problem… QuickBooks.
I should mention that Jim is the type of guy that likes to keep his finances tight, and close to home. He was an active investor, and because he was a quick study, learned to handle most of his financial transactions on his own. These were not simple checking or 401k accounts; I’m talking dozens of real estate transactions, hedge funds, stock investing, and loans, on top of his own personal finances, which, because he was wealthy, were beyond most people’s financial issues.
So when this guy says he needs QuickBooks, there is no way to talk him out of it. He had learned the intricacies of the software and was probably more proficient than most CPA’s. But there was a problem, QuickBooks didn’t play well with Mac OS X. They had an OS X version, but it was very poorly rated on every website, and lacked the functionality of the Windows version.
So we had to do the unthinkable, we used Bootcamp on OS X, and installed Windows as a secondary operating system. He would now be able to use the beautiful OS X interface for his daily needs, except when he had to switch back to the ugly, bug riddled Windows to do his finances.
QuickBooks Continued Hatred of Mac Users
This was not my first issue with QuickBooks not being Mac friendly. Running a company, I would like to have used QuickBooks, but not to the point of having to move from my beloved Mac. So I just went without.
That was around 2005. Since then Apple has become the second biggest company in the world, and by far the biggest technology company. Every year since 2005, Apple has increased their market share in the computer industry significantly. If you purchased a laptop today, you are more likely to have purchased a Mac over any other type of computer. If you’re someone who makes over $250,000 per year, and you purchased a laptop, you almost certainly purchased a Macbook Pro.
QuickBooks on the Mac
So where does Intuit, the incompetent makers of QuickBooks stand on this? They don’t seem to care. Below are a couple Amazon reviews of the latest QuickBooks for Mac, QuickBooks 2011 for Mac, which gets 2.5 stars.
“My PC was dying, so I switched to the Mac version of QB, figuring it would be great on my new Mac. WRONG! It would have been better to buy an inexpensive PC laptop just to run QB than to buy this terrible product. I don’t know how they botched it when the PC version is so good. They said that they built it from the ground up for MAC, but they forgot all the features that make the PC version so good. I strongly recommend keeping your PC version of QB if that’s what you already have!”
“My conclusion for now after spending perhaps 20 hours testing QB2011 on my former QB2007 file (using a separate computer running Snow Leopard): For my business, the upgrade to QB2011 will allow me to finally start running Snow Leopard on my main business Mac. That’s the ONLY reason I’m considering the upgrade. I would continue using QB2007 if it ran OK on Snow Leopard, but it does not. So, I will probably, reluctantly, upgrade soon. If you are just starting out with a business finance program, and are considering Quickbooks 2011 for the Mac, my advice is to 1.) carefully read the reviews here and elsewhere on the internet from Mac/QB users; 2.) take a good, long look at the alternative business/finance software out there before making your decision. As you’ll read here and elsewhere, few people seem to REALLY LIKE Quickbooks and Intuit, but some of us are stuck with them to varying degrees as our systems have been running QB for years. A lot of us wish it were otherwise. The commendable efforts of Mr. Lynes aside, Intuit as a company seems to have really ticked off a large percentage of its Quickbooks/Mac customers.”
I should note that these are the more thoughtful reviews, compared to the rants most people launched into out of pure frustration and scorn.
So this is how Intuit treats Mac users. But hey, this is 2011, we’re in the decade of mobile and web apps. Let’s take a look at those.
QuickBooks on Mobile Devices
Let’s start with mobile. The good news is, they now have an official iPhone app. The bad news… well I think this review from the Apple app store will say it best:
“WTF??? What about Mac users?
I was so excited to finally be able to have an app that will allow me to do an estimate right on the spot.It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for because I really want something that will allow me to see my prices, but I figured if I could do an estimate then it should work. I sign up for the $9.99/mo plan only to find out IT DOESN’T WORK WITH A MAC! WHY?? Why do we get excluded?? You are missing out on good business! This app is coming off and the subscription will be cancelled. “
That’s right, the geniuses made an Apple iPhone app, that doesn’t work with an Apple computer. And to be honest, the app looks like crap anyway.
QuickBooks Online Review
But hey, this is 2011, and it’s still the time of Web apps. Let’s take a look at the QuickBooks Online. First off, up until 2 years ago, Intuit didn’t even support QuickBooks Online for Mac users. So I guess that we should feel honored that in 2009, they finally allowed us that option, which is when I started using it.
So we have a QuickBooks product that I can finally honestly review myself. I won’t bore you with a long description, let me just say that it sucks. I means really sucks. I mean sucks like a collapsing star sucks. I mean if one of my developers were to push out something this crappy, I would fire them instantly, and may even try to deport them to help save our country’s web development reputation. This thing is so bad. Forget Web 2.0, this is computer network from 1997 design bad.
And their iPhone interface…let’s just say it’s not any better than the rest of the crappy product.
QuickBooks iPad App
But wait, this is 2011, the year of the iPad! Surely Intuit can make an amazing QuickBooks app on such an amazing platform. I mean the iPad seems like a natural for this type of “quick invoicing” idea, right? And obviously even the Intuit management sees the revenue potential of hoping on the fastest selling consumer electronic device in history, right? Well… no. Intuit is truly dumber than we could ever have imagined. There is no iPad app, and there doesn’t seem to be any plan to create one.
The Future of QuickBooks
But wait, this is now, what about the future. Obviously Intuit sees the trend, like every other company sees that Apple is reigning supreme for computer sales. Clearly they are planning on changing their ways to keep better pace with Apple, right?
This morning, I saw this post on TUAW, letting me know that Intuit Quicken will not be supported on OS X Lion, the new Mac OS being released by Apple this month. So no, it doesn’t appear that Intuit is learning any lessons from the past.
Now Intuit has made some moves to keep relevant. I mean they made a crappy iPhone app that does’t work with the makers of iPhones. And they did purchase Mint.com, a very popular and growing personal financial platform, and then basically stalled the thing.
FreshBooks Kills QuickBooks
So what is a business owner to do about invoicing and simple financial book keeping? Well first off my bank has been making their own attempts at proving some value here. And how they seem a bit lackluster and primitive, they are infinitely better than QuickBooks.
But the real savior here are services like FreshBooks. I have switched to FreshBooks and have been pretty happy with the service. It’s fast, easy to use, about half the price of QuickBooks Online, and even works with other systems that plug in.
The only real issue I have with FreshBooks is I’m not in love with their iPhone app, but it’s good enough for now. And I really, really wish they had an iPad app. As much as QuickBooks is not servicing their audience, I would bet that well over half of FreshBook users own an iPad. They should really be servicing their market with one. I would be willing to pay $10 for an iPad app, to help cover the work that went into it.
Recommendation on QuickBooks for Mac Users
My recommendations for anyone looking for small business financial software, check out FreshBooks and don’t look back. But do send them an email asking for a better iPhone and iPad apps.
And my recommendations for Intuit, I won’t waste another breath on the losers. The management team will come to represent the biggest squandering of a brand in software history. Intuit, you guys just suck.