Mobile Virtual Communities

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Innovation & ICT, Web 2.0

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Mobile Virtual Communities

“Integration of location-based services with mobile social networking sites ( MSNS)”

In the near future, once the controversy and limits of privacy and confidentiality arising from GPS-based applications, such as Google Latitude, have been overcome, we will increasingly see people using social networks (whether personal, professional or educational, etc.) from their mobile devices for a range of activities depending on their interests and availability.

  • Getting a classmate to reserve a book because they are near a library (
  • Taking advantage of a classmate being in the area to meet up to do the group work forming part of the study plan (
  • Ask a friend, located at the coordinates of a certain store, to buy tickets to a concert by your favourite group (MySpace, Tuenti, orkut, etc.).
  • Meet up with a prospective client, taking advantage of the fact that they are attending a conference in your town (Viadeo, Xing, etc.).
  • Guide a group of professionals you are working with on the route they have to take to get to a meeting (Linkedln, Viadeo, Xing).
  • Arrange a get-together with an old university friend via Facebook.

These kinds of activity are confirmation of two trends that are highlighted in most of the reports published on the present and future market for communications and the network society: the expansion and evolution of the mobile and wireless network technologies market (the idea of a new mobile-based ICT generation) and the growing demand for access to social networks via mobile devices compared to the demand for other services.

These trends have led two of the leading social networks, Facebook and MySpace, to look at an opportunity that had, to date, not existed as part of the strategies and projects to make their services and applications mobile: the use of geopositioning or location data to aid user interaction in their mobile versions, the so-called MSNS or mobile social networking sites.

As described in the Fundación Orange’s annual eEspaña report,… “these kinds of project look to offer user location-based services in the virtual community”.

Knowing whether or not a contact is present in the social network itself or in a given place opens up a wide range of possibilities that can link these services’ conventional offer to indication of an individual’s availability, presence or physical location.

This means that a user or a group of users (their contacts) can socialise in terms of people’s physical location and the activity linked to this location. Users can be alerted to a contact or friend being in a given place, triggering a certain action with regard to their social relations.

The local, ubiquitous, spontaneous and intensive nature of MSNS is an important differentiating factor with respect to traditional social networking sites. Social behaviour and decisions about possible virtual or face-to-face interaction among users can change in real time. MSNS open up a range of possibilities, especially when there is a certain level of trust built up between their members”…

There are a number of barriers and opportunities for these integrated services


  • Policies and people’s right to privacy.
  • Application is dependent on the evolution of mobile technologies (operating systems, widgets, interoperability of devices, etc.).
  • Connection security systems and policies.
  • The fees for connecting to the internet via mobile devices set by the main national operators.
  • High energy consumption of the current generation of mobile devices when connecting to the internet.


  • The potential and external uses offered by location-based services (LBS). These have begun to be seen in certain sectors, such as tourism and entertainment.
  • Once permission has been granted by the telecommunication market regulators, the increased capacities of the new generations of mobile and wireless networks, such as 4G (LTE, Long-Term Evolution), Wi-Fi and WiMAX, with data transmission speeds of up to 70 or 100 Mbps.
  • The great number of services and applications that are offered by new mobile devices, phones or smartphones. With regard to LBS, a range of telephone and communications manufacturers offer, or will soon offer, GPS navigation systems in their products (Nokia’s E75, 71, N96, 95, E66, 65, 6710, etc.; Apple’s iPhone, T-Mobile’s G1, Blackberry’s Bold, Storm, etc.).
  • In general, the clear backing and convergence of most organisations to add portability and mobility to their services, contents or business models; as can be seen in certain sectors, such as gaming, entertainment, mobile banking, mobile learning, etc.

Main links

Fundación Orange:

Spanish Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Trade:


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1 Comments for this post

  1. Trabajo en Bolivia says:

    Me parce bien que se proteja la privacidad de las personas.

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