Los Angeles (June 12, 2003 ) -- Low-end accounting software QuickBooks received a high degree of attention at the California Accounting & Business Show here this week.

Softline North America, which has been aggressively marketing its 18-module BusinessVision 32 business management software suite to businesses that have outgrown the functionality in QuickBooks, announced plans for a single-user BusinessVision version priced at $199. Rather than wait for users to outgrow QuickBooks, Softline hopes the lower-priced edition will be attractive to the entire low-end accounting market.

"This is one way to gain market share and to gain mind share of entrepreneurs and small, growing businesses,” Softline BusinessVision Michael DeBarros said in unofficially announcing the strategy. In a panel discussion on the show floor, executives of Intacct Corp. and NetLedger, developers of Internet-based business management software applications, both reaffirmed that businesses outgrowing the functionality in QuickBooks are a key target for them.

Separately, Scott Cook, chief executive of QuickBooks developer Intuit, said his company had emphasized its ongoing commitment to expanding QuickBooks' usability with last year's release of a higher-powered Enterprise edition and an ongoing "Right for My Business" strategy that includes developing vertical industry editions of QuickBooks. The strategy focuses on adding the functionality that larger and specialized end users require while retaining the QuickBooks' low cost and operational methods.

In a keynote speech, Cook cited examples of customers who moved to QuickBooks Enterprise after bad experiences with higher-priced systems from Oracle Corp. and Microsoft Business Solutions' Great Plains line.

Despite Cook's boasts, several small business technology consultants, such as show attendee Bruce Andersen of BTA Consulting in Woodland Hills, Calif., have said that their growing QuickBooks customers have been disappointed after migrating to the Enterprise edition.

Andersen is a QuickBooks consultant and a reseller/consulting partner for both Intacct and BusinessVision.

-- John M. Covaleski

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