11:11 AM

Sage CEO: Intuit Is Our Top Rival--Not Microsoft, Oracle, SAP

That's because Intuit "really 'gets' the [small-business] segment," according to Sage's Ron Verni.

A murderer's row of software companies including Oracle, SAP and Microsoft are coming after Sage Software's small- and midsize-company applications business.

But Sage CEO Ron Verni is most concerned about Intuit, the perennial power in small-business accounting.

"I should be more worried [about enterprise software companies] coming down. But we know how to make money on smaller sales,” Verni told CRN in an interview Tuesday.

“Those companies have heavy direct sales. It's a very expensive, long lead time, but I'm less worried about [those companies] coming down. Our long-term, biggest competitor is Intuit. I have a lot of respect for them because they really 'get' the [small-business] segment."

Verni said he’s also less perturbed than one might think about Microsoft, which last year launched its Small Business Accounting software to much fanfare. The impact on Sage's Peachtree accounting software business? None, at least according to Verni.

"What's absolutely amazing is there's been no impact on the market at all. The challenge is that between Intuit [QuickBooks] and Peachtree, they take up 99 percent of the marketplace and all the oxygen. You have to sell tens and tens of thousands of units to be viable at retail. If you don't sell, you lose the space," Verni said.

Microsoft erred in placing Small Business Accounting, officially called Microsoft Office Small Business Accounting 2006 next to Microsoft Office in retail instead of on the shelves near Intuit QuickBooks and Peachtree, he said.

The difference between Intuit and Sage is that Intuit sells direct via telesales and retail, Verni noted. "They don't really rely on a partner channel and we do," he said.

Industry observers say of all the SMB accounting wannabes, SAP has seen the most traction with its BusinessOne effort.

On Tuesday, SAP announced the addition of RSM McGladrey to its partner ranks. McGladrey is already a big Microsoft partner on Dynamics Great Plains and CRM and with Sage on its MAS 90 and MAS 500 lines.

And later this month, Intuit--not traditionally viewed as a channel-friendly player--plans to hold its first QuickBooks Enterprise User Conference.

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