The loud and vocal protesting worked: Intuit backed down.
Did you know there was an issue? Get the background information at ExtremeTech. The product activation idea probably sounded good to Intuit at the time, but the heavy handed implementation and their lack of preparation for the shitstorm that followed doomed their tax season.
Most users were unaware of the product activation requirements until after they had bought the product. As the publicity and complaints escalated Intuit tried to defuse the situation, yet the protests continued. Intuit did not meet their sales targets in large part due to lower than forcast growth in the TurboTax brand. The potential of a an organized boycott by loyal TurboTax customers next year seem to have had an impact at the corporate suite at Intuit.
H&R Block tried to capitalize on consumer fears in a marketing campaign for their TaxCut product that proclaimed tax software should “instill confidence. Not install controversy.” Most tax software users had already purchased their software by the time the controversy erupted, so H&R Block didn’t get a ton of traction. H&R Block was poised to go on the offensive next tax season. Some TurboTax users were advocating a boycott of all Intuit products.
Don’t think that this is an isolated case. Other vendors are mulling over the whole copy protection and activation issue. In this case a noteworthy failure in implementation by a major vendor may give them cause to reconsider.
Here’s how Intuit addressed the issue in their press release:
“All in all, this was a solid tax season for us,” said Bennett. “We grew faster than the industry and were successful in driving customers to new, higher-end offerings, though product activation didn’t perform as we’d expected. Intuit has a long heritage of doing right by customers, and some of our customers didn’t have the great experience they expect from Intuit. In addition, we didn’t get the revenue and profit growth we expected. Therefore, we’ve decided to discontinue product activation next season.” Bennett noted that next year, the company would include in-product technology to unlock marketing and trial versions of TurboTax products.