Dec 11

Quicken: stuck in a timehole

Quicken's letter to Mac users — click to enlarge

It takes world-class talent to screw up a relationship as well as Intuit has done with its Mac-based customers. It’s a feat that’s taken over ten years to accomplish.

Intuit has just announced that Quicken, the personal finance manager, is coming back as a Mac product — an act of extraordinary nerve, considering the history of this product.

Quicken was never exactly a star performer on the Mac. From its debut eons ago, it played second fiddle to the PC version. Every year, there would be promises that its features would catch up, but every year it remained significantly behind. But at least they were coming out with an update every year.

Quicken for Mac 2007 was the most recent version, and that was released in 2006. To say it had become long-in-the-tooth would be a serious understatement.

Intuit’s paper-thin commitment to Mac users sputtered to pure nothingness back in July when Lion appeared. Having required Mac OS X’s Rosetta feature to run all these years — because Intuit couldn’t be bothered to turn Quicken for Mac into a real Intel-based app  — it literally became a non-option for anyone who wanted to enjoy the benefits of Lion.

Thus, the mass exodus of those Quicken for Mac users who remained after all those years of previous neglect.

The only option remaining for the Mac people was to switch to Quicken Essentials, which strips away even more features from Quicken than Quicken for Mac ever stripped away from the PC version. The reviews of Quicken Essentials have been consistently negative.

But now Intuit is back. The last known users of Quicken for Mac are receiving the letter above — pretty stunning even by Intuit standards.

Proudly, they tell us that Quicken for Mac isn’t dead after all. If all goes according to plan, sometime around spring 2012, we’ll be able to run Quicken 2007.

The only people who would find solace in this are those diehard Quicken for Mac users who made the decision not to upgrade to Lion just so they could keep using their old Quicken. (Users of Essentials will also be able to move back to the full version.)

One would think they’d at least throw in a few new features and call it Quicken for Mac 2012. It’s just hard to imagine what kind of marketing brains are behind this operation.

Making it all the more inexplicable is that Bill Campbell is the current chairman of Intuit and former CEO, a current and long-time member of the Apple board of directors, and was extremely close to Steve Jobs.

Lest we forget, back in the late 90s, Intuit sent out a different letter to its Mac base — to inform them that the company was pulling out of the Mac market. Quicken for Mac would be no more. I remember how disappointed I was as a user of that product. There was a little firestorm over that move, and a short time later Intuit announced that due to the response, they would scrap their plans to scrap the product.

Unfortunately, they didn’t even bother to send a follow-up email to those who had received the “we’re outta here” email.

At that time, I was working with Apple and told this sad story to Steve Jobs himself one night. Steve was surprised to hear that they’d never sent a follow-up email and agreed that it was a boneheaded marketing move. He told me that he’d talk to Bill Campbell about it. I have no idea if he ever did — but I never received another email from Intuit. I wonder how many customers they lost by that move alone.

Of course, as things turned out, Intuit didn’t exactly stick with us anyway. They stopped caring about the Mac users again back in 2006.

The good news is, now they’re coming back. At some nebulous time in the future. With a product frozen in its 2007 state — which was already a few years behind its time.

But at least this time we got an email.

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  • Former Quicken User

    Is it just me? I remember reading when Lion was about to be released that Intuit was considering licensing the Rosetta emulation technology from Apple, and implementing it in Quicken for Mac.

    Based on the fact they are now talking about releasing the 2007 version of Quicken for Mac in a Lion compatible binary – I am jumping to the conclusion that this deal has been consummated. This path would make “Quicken 2007 for Mac ‘Loin compatible'”, and explains why there is no feature improvement for which you were pining above.

    Intuit did nothing to their soon-to-be six-year-old codebase – they simply purchased some libraries and recompiled their source. Nothing more…

  • Joel

    It may be too late for Quicken. I am planning a purchase in the next few months and my new Mac will be running Lion. I have no intentions of moving back to Snow Leopard, so Quicken is out and I will probably find a replacement.

  • steve

    I’ve searched for a viable alternative, and sadly, every other option has some big turd that prevented me from switching. Consequently, I am one of those people who never upgraded to Lion because of Quicken. So, to be honest, I don’t care if they enhance the product or not right now. I’ll be pretty happy if I can just get the current version to work on Lion. I’ll take new features as they come out after that…

  • Thank you, Ken, for this WELL-DESRVED venom against Intuit.

    I can’t even believe that Tim Cook allowed Bill Campbell to speak at the Steve Jobs Memorial Ceremony. What a way to piss on Steve’s grave. If Bill Campbell was a friend to Steve Jobs, I don’t want to know what his enemies are like.

    A few months ago, I railed into Intuit myself here: http://scottworldblog.wordpress.com/2011/05/23/why-does-intuit-hate-mac-users-and-why-doesnt-apple-save-us/

    I now use iBank 4 for my finances, and despite some bugs and quirks in the program, I’m actually enjoying it.

    My company, ScottWorld, also has a ban on all Intuit products. We will not allow our clients to use any products by Intuit unless they can make some extremely compelling case that necessitates special consideration.

  • James Katt

    Years ago, I switched to QuickBooks Pro – Intuit’s more capable financial application.

    Intuit always upgraded QuickBooks Pro for compatibility with Mac OS X.

    Intuit sat on its rump, however, with Quicken.

    I am pretty happy with QuickBooks Pro. It has more capabilities than Quicken. It is just as easy to use as Quicken. It even has multi-user capability.

    Sure, it costs more. But it also does more. And it can do everything Quicken can do but better.

    If anything, Intuit should have lowered the price on QuickBooks Pro for the Mac and announced it as their upgrade path for Quicken users.

    Then we would not have all this controversy.

    If Intuit also had just stripped QuickBooks Pro of some of its features, it would instantly have a far more advanced and compatible version of Quicken.

    Quicken doesn’t need to be rewritten. It should just be a stripped down version of QuickBooks Pro – which already exists and is compatible with the latest Apple hardware.

    If anything, this shows that Intuit has separate groups that don’t talk to each other. This is unlike Apple, where everyone works together and is on the same page.

  • ken segall

    Wow, that was some article you wrote on the Mac financial software situation. I wish I’d seen it before — but I tested many of those products myself and came out in exactly the same place. I’ve been using iBank since Lion came out. It may not be perfect, but for a long time it gave me a huge smile every time I fired it up, just because it had a modern interface. I didn’t realize how stale Quicken had become — and I was very, very glad to leave it behind.

    I’ve never used QuickBooks Pro, but your idea to strip it down to function as a Quicken replacement is an interesting one. I would really love to know what conversations have gone on inside Intuit about its Mac products.

  • “I remember reading when Lion was about to be released that Intuit was considering licensing the Rosetta emulation technology from Apple, and implementing it in Quicken for Mac.”

    That was only ever a rumor. It was never a serious option from or for Intuit.

  • I got Essentials, then dropped right back to Quicken 2007 when Essentials wouldn’t stop crashing.

    I made the mistake of calling Quicken support. I got a chap in India, who insisted that I let him take over my Mac.

    Inside my corporate network.

    A firing offense.

    He became quite agitated when I tried to explain it to him. Really got rude.

    I hung up on him.

    I now use MoneyWell. It does the trick. I’m not so happy with iBank. I tried it, and ended up trashing it.

  • David Jones

    I too am one of those people who has held off on 10.7 pending a solution to the Quicken for Mac problem. I downloaded and tried several of the other apps suggested as replacements, but none were perfect. So I have hung onto Snow Leopard. If it weren’t such a pain to boot in Windows, I’d probably just to Quicken for Windows. Hopefully Intuit will find a way to bring a truly modern AND COMPLETE finance package to the Mac again one day.

  • ken segall

    You are a loyal customer! We all act as we see fit, but personally I like to reward the companies that treat customers well and display inventiveness, and not support the ones who don’t seem to care. Intuit, for me, is very much the latter. I agree that the other financial apps have some deficiencies, but they’re trying hard. And, as I mentioned in an earlier comment, their interfaces are so much more modern than Quicken’s, it makes you realize just how little love Intuit has put into it since 2006.

  • Jim

    I look forward to Quicken’s update only so I will not be stuck forever in an outdated OS, and limited to Applications that will run in it going forward. I don’t pretend to know how Intuit plans it’s products but their TurboTax division has kept the windows and mac versions the same for years. QuickBooks is another example of a product that has gotten regular (but less frequent) updates on both platforms. Why the Quicken product (their flagship) has not kept pace is beyond reason, especially with Campbell and Jobs being close.
    I am surprised that it took so long for Aaron Forth to decide to update (but not enhance) Quicken 2007, and that is still is months away. We will be getting this update about the time we are hearing about the next OS update and will still be behind in features to the other products. Quicken needs updating not just to run with the newer OS, but it needs to be enhanced to the level of Quicken Premium 2012 or Quickbooks and we may even pay for the update.

  • Paul

    Even Quicken 2012 for Windows received very minor updates this year. A couple interface alterations, an import option added and really nothing else. Many Windows users that upgraded are furious and don’t understand what Intuit has been doing for the last year.
    I switched to MoneyDance for Mac because it supports
    Online bill payment and reasonable investment tracking. Could be better but for users that appreciate a lot of power, the features surpass the other Mac alternatives.