Intuit said it would begin offering new online services for small businesses using QuickBooks software as part of its "Connected Services" strategy.

The company plans to provide its own services, in addition to services from partners. Intuit will also provide tools that let users connect to each other within Intuit's small business network and share ideas. As part of its switch to the Connected Services strategy, Intuit announced in June that it was trimming 7 percent of its workforce (see Intuit Reorganizes and Cuts 575 Jobs).

Part of the strategy involves improving services such as Intuit Payroll and Merchant Services that connect to QuickBooks. Third-party developers will also be able to create services for QuickBooks users with the QuickBase Development Environment that Intuit began testing last April.

As part of its investment in software-as-a-service technology, Intuit acquired Web site provider Homestead Technologies for $170 million last November. The acquisition enables Intuit to offer additional software and services to help small businesses establish a Web presence and market their products.

The QuickBooks Online accounting service is already being used by more than 130,000 small businesses to connect to their accounting information remotely, according to the company. The service is now available for the Apple iPhone, and Intuit intends to soon make it accessible to RIM BlackBerry users.

Intuit is connecting accountants with each other through its recently introduced Accountant Work Exchange service to help them find other qualified accountants who can help with workloads. It also has a service called JumpUp that allows small businesses to connect with each other.

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