Why I’ve Abandoned Quicken, But Not Intuit
Somebody at Intuit must have seen the writing on the wall. Last September, the Mountain View, CA, software company, which has been selling PC-based personal finance programs since 1983 via floppy discs, CD-ROMs, and downloads, paid $170 million to buy a two-year-old Web startup called Mint.com. If you believe, as I do, that almost everyone who uses a computer to manage their personal finances will be doing so using a Web-based service like Mint.com within a few years, then you have to conclude that Intuit got a great bargain.
In essence, Intuit (NASDAQ: INTU), by acquiring the one company that had the potential to destroy its personal finance business, bought that business an indefinite life extension. Imagine how much stronger Microsoft’s position would be now if it had bought Google when the search company was two years old, back in 2000, and you begin to get a sense of what I mean.
The move was unexpectedly insightful. Few companies have the wisdom to recognize that they’ve been superseded, let alone the courage to admit that they aren’t competent to reinvent themselves from within. As a result, Intuit, the maker of Quicken and TurboTax, has won back at least one customer, namely me.
I used Quicken for years, probably starting around 1996. At home I have an ancient Dell Inspiron laptop computer, purchased in 2004, that I have kept around far past its point of obsolescence—and long after switching the rest of my life over to my Mac—solely in order to run Quicken. (Until very recently, there wasn’t a decent version of Quicken for Mac.) But even that use tailed off around 2008, as I ran into more and more difficulties with the aging version of Quicken that I was running, and as the online alternatives grew more attractive. Finally, in the middle of 2009 or so, I stopped using Quicken altogether.
I haven’t missed it in the least, because the combination of Mint.com’s free service and my bank’s website give me all the information I need about the status of my savings, checking, investment, and credit card accounts. (I use Bank of America, which has pretty good online tools.) But now that Mint is part of Intuit, I’m back in the fold.
I should say up front that I was never an advanced user of Quicken, and neither do I make use of all of the features of Mint. Also, my financial situation isn’t very complicated—I’m single with no kids and no mortgage. Mainly, I just need to see all of my updated account balances in one place. I don’t care much (though I probably should) about comparing the performance of every fund in my 401(k) to the broader market. Plus, being a natural-born skinflint, I don’t need help from software to … Next Page »