Thursday, September 12, 2013

Not the "A" Game, @Quicken

So Quicken is the software you love to hate. They're the Sprint, the United Airlines, the FTD of software. Though sheer will, a decent product and a distracted half-hearted competitor who threw in the towel (Microsoft), they are the top dog in a very small field of money management software. For overall utility, it's quite a functional piece of software. I know that I'm only using a small piece of it myself to track checking, savings and credit card accounts as well as retirement savings accounts, stocks and an auto loan. There are bits for budgeting and forecasting that we only brush up against the tip of the iceberg on. For our budgeting and closer watch on stocks, Excel can't be beat for extensibility.

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But for overall ability to track funds, download transactions and help us keep everything straight, Quicken gets the job done.  But it's not without its warts. The software is slow, doesn't work in the cloud and requires a PC. There are some cloud-based competitors and the only one that's was really looking like a contender was Mint. It had its shortcomings, like an inability to enter receipts before they were downloaded from the bank and the ability to split receipts for multiple transactions. They might have fixed that by now, but they're also owned by Quicken now and the switching costs for us would be high. Lori likes what technology can do for you, but she has a low tolerance for technical complexity, especially in a task that she's already not fond of, like finance. (She handles most of the receipts and I handle most of the bill paying.)

An aggressive yearly cycle has them constantly demanding we upgrade and after a few years, some functionality stops. They might as well call it a license (not a software purchase). I'd much rather pay $20 a year for the latest version than $60 every 3 years when I'm forced to upgrade.

We upgraded in 2012 so we're looking at 2015 for our next required upgrade. But 2013 added a mobile app that lets you enter receipts and have them sync up with the software.  That sounded pretty cool. But then I looked at the app and it had 2-stars on the iTunes store.

I checked again today, and they haven't updated the app since January. You'd think a product like this would have had quite a few updates since then to address some of the concerns. I'm sure that they're busy with other stuff, but you'd think they'd have a roadmap for regular upgrades, especially when someone can so clearly see what others think.

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And that worries me - that suggests that my pessimism is not misplaced - that this company is hoping that people will upgrade because they're uninformed and stick around because of the high switching costs or perception that there isn't any other options out there for easy financial tracking. (Because they do make it easy. Most of the commentary to contrary from Lori is due to my attempts to run it from a cloud-based service so we could update the same file from multiple computers. That was a colossal failure but not Quicken's fault.)

So c'mon, Quicken - let's see some updates to this app - I'm sure you can do a 3.5 or 4 app easy.

And as soon as you do, I'll upgrade.
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