Intuit, Peachtree Eye Hosting

Vendors vie with Web-based NetLedger in accounting software services.

Desktop accounting veterans Intuit Inc. and Peachtree Software Inc. are focusing new products around a hosting model, hoping to close a technology gap created this year by newcomers such as NetLedger Inc. and other Web-based services.

Intuit this month announced QuickBooks for the Web, which is designed "for people who think General Ledger was a World War II hero," said founder and Chairman Scott Cook. The Mountain View, Calif., company late last month also launched, a Web-based suite of tools and services for accounting professionals, and will soon announce online versions of database, employee management and volume purchasing applications.

Meanwhile, Peachtree will announce its application service provider plans early next month. Those plans are still unclear. The Norcross, Ga., company launched its ePeachtree service in April, featuring Wireless Application Protocol access to customers data, and a Web-based payroll service in June.

"When you juxtapose Intuit and Peachtree against NetLedger, its going to be interesting to see who wins. They all have to be on guard watching each other," said Amy Levy, an analyst with Summit Strategies Inc., of Boston.

Reacting to the QuickBooks for the Web announcement, NetLedger President and CEO Evan Goldberg circulated a press release attacking the products features. NetLedger, of San Mateo, Calif., launched Version 5.0 of its namesake application two weeks ago and will announce a bill payment service later this year, plus contact management and employee self-service features early next year.

Goldberg told eWeek that his product is more secure than a desktop solution. "They should be delivering what we are to their QuickBooks customers," he said. Goldbergs company is supported by Oracle Corp., whose chairman and CEO, Larry Ellison, is also chairman of NetLedger.

Customers consider ease of use and feature sets to be equally important, Summits Levy said. Ron Gabel, president of Ongoing Companies Inc., in Denver, agrees. His company, a small-business consultancy, is an early adopter of QuickBooks for the Web.

"With a Web-based solution, I can review their financials and bookkeeping from my office," Gabel said, referring to his approximately 75 customers. "My ability to serve my clients has been magnified considerably."