Life after Quicken

Intuit Inc.'s decision this month to end development of Quicken for Mac has stunned many, but it has also created an opening for at least one other developer.

Intuit Inc.'s decision this month to end development of Quicken for Mac has stunned many, but it has also created an opening for at least one other developer.

Citing declining sales, Intuit of Menlo Park, Calif., said Quicken 98 is the last Mac version of the product (see 04.20.98, Page 3). Intuit said it plans to continue supporting the Mac version and did not close the door on future development should consumer demand warrant it. Development on the Windows version will continue.

For now the company is pointing Mac users to its Web site for extending the product's capabilities. Steve Grey, director of marketing for Quicken, said the nature of personal finance information is that it is "always changing. It's got to be Web-based."

Paul Ramirez, vice president of Palo Alto, Calif.-based retailer ComputerWare, said he was confused by Intuit's decision because the program's installed base of users "is fairly stable" and Quicken sales weren't suffering at ComputerWare's 10 San Francisco Bay area stores.

"We sell a ton," Ramirez said. "It's consistently one of our No. 1 sellers."

Accounting software vendor Aatrix Software Inc. of Grand Forks, N.D., saw a bright side to Intuit's news.

"It could open up a large potential opportunity for us," said Steve Lunseth, Aatrix CEO. "We basically fought tooth and nail with the Quicken product for years and had to quit selling our personal finance product" -- CheckWriter Pro. Now that the marketplace has changed, Lunseth said, "we will have to evaluate what we will do or if we will enhance it."

Spencer Hinsdale, partner with Palo Alto-based Big Business Inc., said halting Macintosh development for Quicken was a "poor move, both strategically and for their company image. There are still Macs out there."

According to PC Data Inc. of Reston, Va., Mac sales for all Quicken products dropped from $7.9 million in revenue in 1996 to $6.8 million in 1997; unit sales dropped by 28,681 in 1997 from 161,841 units sold in 1996. Windows-based Quicken sales increased from $71 million to $73 million during the same period, with the same number of units shipped, the company said. The Mac's share of the personal finance software market declined over the same years, from 8.2 percent to 6.6 percent, PC Data said.

Software analyst Chris LeTocq of Dataquest, a San Jose, Calif., division of Gartner Group Inc., said: "This is probably the right thing for them to do. I think they are sort of looking at some marketplace reality here."