Intuit "stimulus program" benefits small businsses, but not end users

Nice deals and a clever contest don't trickle down to consumers

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
2 min read

Intuit, makers of the accounting product QuickBooks for small business, and the consumer accounting apps Quicken and TurboTax, today announced a cleverly-named "stimulus package" for its small business products.

The program, Small Business United, consists of reduced-price services or extended trial periods on online apps. For example, the Inuit Online Payroll services is now free for six months ($9.95 a month thereafter). Intuit-hosted small business Web sites are now free for a full year ($4.99 a month afterward).

"Grant" = "Prize." But money's money.

More interesting than the effective price drops on Inuit small business products is the competition the company is running to share small business tips. Considering the economy today, sharing advice on making through is a great idea. All tips are visible on the site. The community helps to vote on the best ideas (the mechanics are exactly clear). Fifty-five winners receive prizes ("grants") ranging from $5000 to the $25,000 grand prize, in addition to Intuit products and services. It's not exactly like the constraint-free bailouts banks are getting, and small businesses do have to sing for their supper, but money is money, and we appreciate the spirit of these awards.

Less appreciated by many (like me) is Intuit's continued lack of a bailout for consumers using its paid software app, Quicken. The company still "sunsets" its annual versions of Quicken, forcing users to upgrade to newer versions. Often, these annual releases are not mature on launch and cause users new problems. I'd like to see the stimulus package extend down to this product. Our society is entering a buy-and-hold era with consumer goods like appliances and cars. It would be nice if software vendors respected this as well.