We looked at QuickBooks 2009 for Mac last week, and also slated to be updated for 2009 is QuickBooks Online. Intuit was showing off the latest version at their booth at Macworld Expo running in the Safari web browser (which was not previously possible). QuickBooks Online is an interesting alternative for Mac users because it is the only multi-user version of QuickBooks that will run directly on the Mac, even if it is in a web browser.
If you have 2-3 users and do not need to track inventory, then QuickBooks Online might be a great solution for your business. You get multi-user access at a lower cost than implementing a multi-user Windows installation. You can also provide online access to your accountant, but cannot export an accountant’s copy for editing in the desktop software like you can in QuickBooks for Windows.
There is an iPhone optimized web page available as well that gives you read-only access to a number of key pieces of information like “Who Owes Me,” “Who I Owe,” and Bank Account balances. You can also create new invoices on the upcoming iPhone web app.
Intuit is looking into expanding the feature set of the iPhone web portal to include editing existing invoices, but the feature set for the next release has not been locked down yet. I, for one, would love to see the timeclock available on the iPhone so you could clock in or out on a job site. I would also like to see the ability to add a new line item to an existing invoice so if you run a business where services are delivered on-site, it would be simpler to upsell or cross-sell at the customer site and update the invoice right then and there.
Pricing for QuickBooks Online starts at $9.95 per month, but the Online Plus version with most of the goodies starts at $34.95 per month for up to 3 users (access for your accountant is included for free, as are timeclock-only users). Release of QuickBooks Online with Mac compatibility is slated for release in the next few months.
Which One is Right for Me?
This is a tough question for Mac users. If you are running a small business with a single user accessing QuickBooks, then the desktop version is probably the right choice. The 2009 update does not offer huge improvements in functionality, but the interface is much improved and streamlined, and you get Leopard compatibility. All the reports that you likely need are included, and the new Cover Flow report browser makes it easy to find what you are looking for.
If you need multiple users to access your QuickBooks file, then I would seriously consider the Online service as soon as the Mac-compatible update is released to the public. You cannot manage inventory, but QuickBooks Online is the only way to get multi-user support natively. The iPhone web app has limited functionality today, but is a nice addition that will only get better with time.