Intuit Inc. has unveiled plans for the release of software tools that would allow third-party developers to make niche applications that work with QuickBooks. But because QuickBooks for Mac hasn’t been updated in over three years and the tools won’t work with it, developers and Mac users will be out of luck.
The new strategy calls for the release of application programming interfaces, or APIs, for third-party software developers to write specialized applications that will integrate data from their solutions with QuickBooks, such as software for the hotel industry or inventory control for a small parts company.
But because the majority of the Intuit APIs are platform neutral and QuickBooks for Mac version 4 is not ‘API-ready,’ it will not be able to benefit from the new niche application strategy as Windows developers and users will, Hisham Ibrahim, technical product manager for Inntuit’s Developer Network, told MacCentral.
“It comes down to a matter of demand from both our existing developer base and developers who will be developing applications in the future,” Ibrahim said. “There are no plans or consideration to develop those APIs for a Mac version, which would require we develop a redesign and new version of the product.”
The silver lining to the Intuit announcement is Intuit has released APIs for two of its small business products — QuickBooks Site Solutions, a Web site creation and management tool, and QuickBase, a Web shareable database that can be used online by Mac users.
QuickBooks Pro, while still available as version 4 in a standalone product, has not been upgraded since early 1998 and has been a thorn in the side of Intuit as well as Apple from critics who often highlight the fact that the number of small business accounting packages for Mac are limited in number and scope. From Intuit’s strategy, it appears the company has given up developing QuickBooks for Mac and is willing to relinquish its customer base to competitors such as MYOB.
A draft specification for the QuickBooks APIs is now available on the company’s developer Web site. The final APIs won’t be available until the next version of QuickBooks for Windows is released, which is expected by years end. While membership to the Intuit Developer Network is free today, Intuit expects to eventually charge developers around US$1,000 a year to use Intuit’s APIs and market their applications on Intuit’s online Developer Network Web site.
Intuit unveiled the new strategies at the Demo 2001 conference in Pheonix, a showcase of new products, technologies, and companies.