Intuit will release the Web version of Quicken on January 8. I just got a demo and spent some hands-on time with the beta of the app. The answers to the two big questions about the app are: Yes, Mint should worry. And No, Quicken Online is not going to cannibalize Quicken's software sales. (See previous news story: Intuit building Quicken Online.)
Easier to use, but does less
Like Mint, Quicken Online is targeted at people with "simpler financial needs" than typical Quicken desktop users, Quicken product manager Jim Del Favro told me. By that he means younger users who haven't yet seen their financial picture complicated with mortgages, investment portfolios, and employee stock option plans, financial instruments that Quicken Online does not support. In contrast, Quicken desktop lets you cook your own books a hundred different ways. (See reviews: Mint; Quicken 2008.)
Like Mint, Quicken Online pings your financial institutions on your behalf and always shows you just what your banks and credit card holders know about your accounts. Quicken Online is based on a very strong cashflow management message. The home page is titled, "Am I living within my means?" It shows you, in three big boxes, the money you've earned in the last 30 days, what you've spent, and the difference. If the income is less than the outgo, the very stark third summary box tells you by how much, with the headline, "So, I overspent."
The product does not provide bill payment or presentment services. Rounding out the billing functionality is slated for future updates. However, Quicken Online does try to determine which of your expenses are bills, and it will remind you each month before it expects those bills to come due. It can even send reminders to your mobile phone.
For tax year 2008, Quicken Online will integrate with TurboTax Online (review), Del Favro told me. That's big.
In the beta I tried, setting up accounts was easier than it was in Mint's early days. The service knows about more than 5,000 banks and credit card issuers, and getting it to download your data is a simple matter of providing user IDs and passwords. As with Mint, you have to trust Intuit to keep your passwords safe. Intuit has the marketing advantage in this regard, since the company has been in the personal finance business for more than 20 years and has earned users' trust.
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