Intuit positions QuickBooks Online as management platform

The new version, due in October, eases integration of third-party cloud applications.

Intuit has completely overhauled the cloud version of its accounting software, QuickBooks Online, integrating its payroll and payments tools into the service more tightly and introducing an open application programming interface (API) that makes it easier to plug in third-party applications.

It's a move that positions Intuit more directly against the cloud software applications that have cropped up to try to replace it. Many of those offerings, especially Freshbooks, Intacct and Xero have positioned their ecosystem of related applications as a differentiator.

"We rebuilt QuickBooks Online from the ground up to deliver a simple, yet powerful platform that goes beyond accounting and offers small businesses an unprecedented business management solution," said Dan Wernikoff, senior vice president and general manager of Intuit Small Business Financial Solutions, in a statement about the new release. "The online version of QuickBooks is built to take advantage of the cloud and is an open platform that sets our foundation for future growth in the United States and globally."

Available in more than 100 countries, the new version will be available starting in October 2013. There are currently about 500,000 subscribers to the existing service, representing about 1.3 million users.

The new offering will priced at $12.99 per month per user or $124.99 per year for new users, which includes access to the entire suite of mobile applications that plugs into the system. The software is available in more than 10 languages.

There are already dozens of applications that should benefit from the new focus on integration. Many of them are featured on the Intuit marketplace -- ranging from CRM to freight management to project organization. The idea is that a small business can pretty much customize their QuickBooks Online service to meet their needs, turning the service into a "global small business operating system," as Intuit likes to call it. 

Among the other features that Intuit is touting -- aside from the integration component -- is real-time reports, which can be immediately sent over to a small-business owner's accountant or bookkeeper. The overall interface was redesigned with a "mobile first" future in mind.