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Social networking: Now it's CDW's turn

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So you are a small business and you buy your PCs from CDW? Need customer support? Why don't you get support from customers instead?

CDW, America's biggest computer dealer, is getting into user-generated publishing, with today's launch of ConduIT@CDW.

Top of the features check list are tech forums - "peer-to-peer correspondence on topics ranging from technology to management to skills development". Reader polls are in the mix too, joining competitions and tech articles, podcasts and vidcasts from CDW and its vendors. And you can subscribe to a feed for news and views.

We can see why CDW is doing this: small businesses are notoriously hard to reach and expensive to market to because: they identify themselves as small publishers, or plumbers, or bakers, rather than as small businesses per se. And because there are so damn many of them.

CDW has small business customers by the bucket-load and has plenty of vendor co-operative marketing funds to throw into custom publishing, Web 2.0 -style. But, as we noted last week in our article about NewEgg's foray into publishing, we are skeptical of the chances of any computer dealer building a credible social networking site. Unless they want an in-house bitch board for customers to complain about lousy service, of course.

Only teenagers hang out in malls. Small businesses have better things to do and better places to go. ®

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