Challenge to Sage dominance

Sage’s position as the unchallenged leader of small-business accounts software may be under threat after an independent survey found it had slipped into second place.

According to the latest retail figures from independent industry retail monitor Chart-Track, which looked at sales for May, QuickBooks held retail sales amounting to 50% of the accounts software market, while Sage Instant Accounting sold 39%.

This figure follows its results for the previous month, which showed Quickbooks had also outsold Instant Accounting through April.

The two months of sales lead swapping represent the first time Sage’s Instant Accounting has not been the market leader in this sector.

Intuit, the producer of Quickbooks, said the company saw the results as evidence of a trend of consumers looking for simpler ways to meet their accounting needs.

Over the 12 months to May 2001, sales of QuickBooks have increased by 60.3%. Over the same period, sales of Sage have declined by 16.5%.

Reporting the figures, Dorian Bloch, director of Chart-Track, said: ‘The SME accountancy software market has always been dominated by Sage and Intuit. And of these two, Sage has always been the market leader.

‘These most recent figures, however, show that Intuit’s QuickBooks has replaced Sage’s Instant Accounting as the market leader in retail sales.’

Neil Atkins, marketing director at Intuit, said: ‘This reinforces our view that small businesses want a quick and easy solution to maintaining their books. We’ve always been committed to providing software for SMEs – and we now aim to work with small businesses and grow the category.’

However, Sage disputed the figures and pointed out they would entirely depend on which retail outlets Chart-Track had used. A spokeswoman for Sage, added defiantly: ‘Our figures tell a different story.’

Chart-Track undertakes retail research based on over-the-counter retail sales where the data is captured electronically each day from retailers’ EPoS systems.

Meanwhile, Access also believes it is to turn up the heat on Sage after going head-to-head for dominance in the entry-level accounts software market.

The battle has begun after Access this week launched its Foundations XP offering. The company said it believed it was ‘more functional, easier to use and less expensive than Sage Line 50’.

XP costs from £375 plus VAT for a fully integrated system and is compatible with all 32-bit Windows operating systems from Windows 95 upwards.

– For more on Quickbooks visit

– Visit for further Sage information.

Related reading