Sunday, January 24, 2010

Quicken Online Turns into Mint


I got a big surprise on the Quicken Online website because the offer to new subscribers was Gone! Instead there was a link to arch competitor Mint! 

I am a big fan of Quicken Online - the free online version of Quicken the desktop software. I started using it because Intuit's TurboTax Online was so useful.  I went online before most people because I am a Mac user, and desktop finance software is not good on the Mac.


Quicken Online is a zombie today, because its parent Intuit bought its competitor Mint.com. Intuit kept the Mint.com management, and will be "migrating" all the Quicken Online people over to Mint. Hopefully the "migration" will be peaceful and not a "death march."


Quicken Online never lived up to its potential. For example one could not import tax deductions into Turbotax like one could with the desktop version. I kept hoping for that. I was an early subscriber to the old pay-subscription version. It was interesting watching the development team add features and blog about it on the site's blog. The subscribers kept asking for more and more features.

A lot of the community disappeared when the service went free about two years ago. The development team must have changed as well. The whole site became more impersonal. No one moderated the forums and or updated the blogs. On the other hand the free version of Quicken Online was a much better service. The functionality improved, the bugs faded away, and they added a lot of java-based animations to make it cool to look at.

For those of you who don't use online finance software, the appeal of it is quick and (generally) trouble-free downloading of transactions. This is EASIER than downloading to a desktop version, or especially putting it all in Excel.

The slow development of Quicken Online probably killed it. Both Mint.com and Quicken Online had 1.7 million subscribers, but 700,000 are active each month on Mint.com, and only 100,000 are active each month on Quicken Online. Quicken had links to more banks, 12000 with Mint at 8000--reflecting the weight of Intuit in the desktop market. People tried both services and liked the Mint.com service better, and this despite the advantage of the Intuit name.

I paid a visit to Mint.com. It is a better service than it used to be with investment services now. It also has a lot of new colorful animated graphs. Mint's reviews are good too.

I am hoping that the migration to Mint.com is painless, or at least not too painful. I suppose I can't complain since it is free.