There has been a long running battle between the two small business accounting software giants for well over a decade. QuickBooks is the premier software program in the US but it has never been able to grab a sizeable market share from MYOB, mainly I suspect because Reckon has been unsuccessful in getting the active support of many accounting firms, and too often business owners select software based on their accountant’s recommendation rather than the better business solution.
QuickBooks stole a march on MYOB by releasing a cloud-enabled product back in 2009. MYOB was held back for technical reasons that it was slow to resolve. However it looks as though that may be history, MYOB is poised to emerge from its final beta test phase and release AccountRightLive to the market well before Christmas.
Although QuickBooks Hosted was marketed as a cloud product, by and large it failed to impress the market. Virtually any review of small business cloud accounting software mentioned Xero, Saasu, and MYOB Live Accounts but didn’t mention QuickBooks. The reasons given were that you couldn’t access it via a browser, it was not specifically written for the web and couldn’t connect to other cloud applications thus limiting the efficiencies a business could hope to achieve by going cloud. This is despite the fact that from a functionality perspective it far outweighed Xero for example.
Now, the interesting point about the MYOB solution is that it is many respects similar to the QuickBooks solution – i.e. it is the desktop product hosted in the cloud so will it be viewed in the same light as QuickBooks?. MYOB has been aggressively marketing its solution by turning potential negatives into positives before they have even been identified as negatives. So for example using a web browser is deemed to be ‘first generation cloud’ – i.e. cloud software doesn’t have to be via a web browser.
So I am wondering whether MYOB will succeed where QuickBooks struggled and get its product accepted as a cloud solution and thereby rewrite the definition of cloud accounting software? An interesting conundrum
What are the similarities?
- Both MYOB and QuickBooks are hosted products, neither use a web browser but with MYOB you must have the software installed on the device accessing the data. This could be seen as a restriction but the proliferation of mobile devices make it unlikely that a user would need or want to access their financial data from an Internet cafe or similar and QuickBooks also has a restriction that you need to run a compatibility check on the device before using it for the first time. So although this is a point of difference, I don’t see that there is any real substance in it.
- New Releases – MYOB is planning to put out a new release every 6 weeks (which means you would have to update every device every six weeks although MYOB is promising a flexible delivery method for installing the new releases). QuickBooks is staying to the twice a year approach which does put it out of step with all other cloud products
- Version With MYOB you retain in the cloud, the version that you originally purchased – e.g. Basic, Standard, Plus but with QuickBooks all cloud users are upgraded to the top level Enterprise version so you get full functionality.
- Pricing – QuickBooks pricing is per user with unlimited company files, MYOB is based on the version and pricing is per company file. You would need to look at your individual requirements to make a valid price comparison.
- Desktop & Cloud usage – both products do allow for cloud and desktop processing. MYOB has a secure check out/check in process to ensure one person doesn’t update the cloud version while another updates the desktop. It also has a continuous synchronisation process so it is fairly easy to switch between cloud and desktop. QuickBooks is much more cumbersome – there is no security to prevent duplication and you have to download and upload the entire file (albeit a compressed version) every time
- Connectivity to other Cloud applications – at present that is an issue with both solutions.
So far QuickBooks has been slow to respond to challenges from the MYOB solution, but Xero is expecting that its uninterrupted exponential growth and poaching of MYOB customers is about to come under threat and is hitting back at MYOB’s approach. We can probably expect some more wars of words when the lauch finally happens.