This morning MYOB flicked the switch on its new online small business accounting solution, LiveAccounts (disclosure – I’ve been consulting with MYOB on their cloud strategy). First some details:

  • $25 a month (including GST)
  • unlimited in terms of invoices entered
  • up to 100 statement lines from any automatic bank feed

Chris Keall does a great job of covering the thrust and parry of the MYOB vs Xero war of words here.

myob liveaccounts(1)

Obviously I’m privy to a more detailed road map but I’ll give some quick thoughts based only on what I’d know looking at this product from the outside.

Firstly – disconnect. It seems strange having a fully on-demand product while the rest of the MYOB product line is firmly on premise. This disconnect means that the application is just that – standalone with no obvious upgrade path – while that’s fine for users today, it may limit them in the future.

This disconnect extends out to the wider ecosystem and there’s no apparent API play here – it’d be great to combine LiveAccount with some sort of CRM lite, or project management lite – that doesn’t seem do-able at this time.

In terms of performance, I’ve been pretty impressed – my (non scientific) tests actually have LiveAccounts responding faster than Xero. Previous beta versions of the app were pretty diabolical but they seem to have sorted their performance issues.

The UI is very 1.0. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, MYOB CEO Tim Reed has come out saying that LiveAccounts is focused firmly on the mass market. This being the case a less “web 2.0” UI isn’t a particular barrier. While it doesn’t get me all excited, I’m not really a target user for the app.

In terms of price point and feature set – LiveAccounts is purposely lightweight. It’s targeted at the micro/freelance market, the same market that FreshBooks aims for. By concentrating on simplicity and execution, FreshBooks has scaled to a million or so users, so there’s definitely something to be said for a lightweight approach.

It’s interesting to note that LiveAccounts comes with live chat support (during working hours) while Xero’s support (other than the fantastic work of Orange Girl) is via email, a generally slower channel.

So… where does that leave us? MYOB has a million customers, a massive brand identity and a bunch of committed accounting partners on board. Xero has some high profile people behind it and a real dose of Web 2.0 goodness. This isn’t a xero-sum game and there can be more than one winner in the camp, but it is going to be interesting to see how Xero’s customer acquisition rate in the Australasian market is affected by LiveAccounts.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

  • its not a beauty contest…

    You hit the nail on the head when you said its disconnect. Only makes sense if MYOB are targetting non-consumers.

  • I can understand that MYOB had to get on the cloud asap as a foil to Xero. However Live Accounts with a thin feature set, low price and no API indicates it is definitely just a place holder while MYOB try and get their current desktop bound product to the cloud. No easy task for MYOB given the need to migrate existing users data and entice entrenched cloud-shy users.
    Ben,a little misleading to quote a million MYOB users. They would be lucky to have half that number that are potential consumers for this product or even the current desktop offering as a cloud application.
    No mention of Quickbooks who have a cloud offering but seem to be keeping a low profile. Any comment on them as the dark horse?

    • Chris – I’ve covered Quickbooks online and the Intuit Partner Platform at length previously. Re the million MYOB customers, I never suggested they were potential customers for LA but they’re in the market for an accounting app and MYOB has the bulk of the mindshare in that space. That’s powerful…

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