It should be no surprise that Intuit announced that QuickBooks Desktop will be subscription only by the end of this year. No more one-time purchases of a license. To get any QuickBooks Desktop product you will have to pay for an annual subscription.
This is something that I predicted would occur, although it came about a bit later than I expected. In February 2017 I wrote an article in the Accountex Report blog titled Is QuickBooks Desktop Dead, where I stated that I expected Intuit to move QuickBooks Desktop to a subscription-only model. Unfortunately, the Accountex folks have deleted the Accountex Report blog and all 400 of the articles I wrote for them, so you’ll just have to trust me on this one.
Changes to QuickBooks Desktop
Here’s what has been announced by Intuit, as I understand it:
- QuickBooks Pro and Premier will only be sold as a subscription. You won’t be able to buy the (to be released soon) QuickBooks Desktop 2022 product as a “one time” product that you can use forever (with restrictions after support is retired). It will only be available on a yearly subscription basis. This is the “QuickBooks Pro Plus” and “QuickBooks Premier Plus” products that have been available for many years now.
- QuickBooks Pro and Premier 2021 will still be available for a limited time. One-time purchases of the 2021 version of QuickBooks Pro and Premier will be available for purchase through December 10, 2021, and only through Intuit direct sales as well as registered Intuit dealers/partners. Keep in mind that some features of the one-time-purchase 2021 product will be retired in just three years (for example, see QuickBooks 2018 Discontinuation Scheduled).
- QuickBooks 2022 will only run on 64 bit computers. This isn’t a surprise, and I don’t expect it to affect too many people. The 2022 product won’t run on 32 bit computers.
- QuickBooks Mac Plus will be introduced – a subscription of QuickBooks Mac desktop. There’s a prediction I totally missed years ago, I thought that the Mac product would be discontinued.
I also believe that there won’t be any sales of QuickBooks Pro and Premier via big box retailers and Amazon, but that isn’t clear to me at this point.
Why a QuickBooks Desktop Subscription?
I don’t talk to Intuit folks any more so I don’t have any current information, but this move makes sense to me in the context of what I’ve learned from them in the past.
- Intuit wants all revenue to be subscription based. They have financial reasons to generate everything by subscription rather than unit sales. I won’t try to explain that, corporate financials are above my pay grade, but they have stated this for many years now.
- QuickBooks Online revenue has finally passed QuickBooks Desktop. Look at their fiscal year 2021 financials, page 3, which shows revenue for fiscal years 2019, 2020, and 2021. “Total Online Ecosystem” revenues exceeded “Total Desktop Ecosystem” revenues in fiscal year 2020, I think that is the first time that has happened. And online revenue is growing much faster in fiscal year 2021.
Is QuickBooks Desktop Dead?
I don’t think we can say that QuickBooks Desktop is dead yet, as it still generates a lot of Intuit’s revenue. But I think that the end is coming. It will be interesting to see how things change with the subscription model. Many long-time QuickBooks Desktop users are not going to be happy with the change. Newer business owners are much less likely to want to work with an antiquated desktop product like this. I’m going to guess that in a few years, revenue for the desktop product is going to drop quickly.
What do YOU think of this change?