Google Slaps Its Sticker on QuickBooks

The next version of Intuit’s QuickBooks back-office software will be fitted with one-click access to Google’s popular search marketing, advertising and classified listing services.

As part of a non-exclusive partnership announced Wednesday, Quicken agreed to build Google’s services directly into its QuickBooks 2007 software upgrade that’s scheduled to ship later this fall.

The deal immediately puts services like Google AdWords, plus business listings in Google Maps and Google Base, in front of millions of U.S. small business owners, promising an easy-to-use interface to list products for sale and drive local search traffic to Web sites.

Intuit hopes the agreement will spur upgrades by those small- to mid-sized businesses that are clued in to online marketing but have not yet made the leap. Google stands to gain purchase with the same crowd.

“We take this long tail business very, very seriously,” said Google chief executive Eric Schmidt on a conference call with reporters. “We’re convinced this is a way to add a million or more online subscribers to the Google network.”

The partnership puts a Google icon directly into the QuickBooks interface, allowing small businesses to automatically add their listings to Google Maps or upload product inventory to Google Base, the Craigslist-type classified listing service launched by Google last October. but the key to the pact is the Google AdWords tie-in, allowing users to select search terms related to their product or service and create customized ads that show up when shoppers search on Google for those products or services.

Google’s Desktop Search utility has also been built directly into QuickBooks, part of a multi-pronged approach to lure Intuit’s 3.7 million active customers into peddling their wares online.

First-time QuickBooks users get a $50 AdWords credit, and those without an existing Web presence get a free, Google-hosted small business profile page. “We’ll create something for them, with their own logo and information so they have a landing page for their (AdWords) advertising,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Google VP of global online sales and operations.

The companies said their arrangement could eventually expand to include pay-per-call and e-commerce payment services from Google.

Intuit announced separately it would spend $60 million in cash to acquire local services company StepUp, which is powering the auto-uploading of listings to Google Base within QuickBooks. StepUp’s technology is being used to transfer inventory already available in QuickBooks into Google Base via an easy-to-use interface. “When we were putting this plan together with Google, we formed a partnership with StepUp and as we got closer to (today’s) launch, we made a decision to buy the company,” said Intuit CEO Steve Bennet.

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