Tocmags – UGC Java Mags

User generated content is the new new thing at the moment – both online and in mobile – and unless you’ve been living under a stone, you can’t fail to have noticed the buzz.

I’ve been looking at Tocmag recently, which allows you to create your own Java magazine for friends, family and colleagues to download to their mobile and browse offline.

We’ve already seen big name publishers with Java versions in partnership with Refresh Mobile’s Mobizines. But this is the first time that I’ve seen this offered to the ordinary punter.

To show exactly how easy this is, I created a magazine you can download onto your mobile from here www.tocmag.com/russ. Simply go there on your mobile, download it and you’ll see what I came up with in a few minutes. I am, it must be said, a little bit of a technical and design klutz. But my effort illustrates how incredibly easy it must be to use and hints at the potential of what could be done with someone with a little more skill and time.

If you can’t be bothered to check out my effort, I put together a 2 page mag, consisting text and images – my mug shot (sorry about that) uploaded from my phone and a post from MobHappy which I wrote on Monday.

So how much does this little lot cost then? It’s actually free to both create one (or a dozen) and free to download, with the normal caveat that your operator will probably charge you for the data unless you’re on a plan.

I think that this idea has the potential to be very big indeed – at least as big as “professionally” produced content. Like the Blogosphere, many of the magazines will probably be read by only one or two people – indeed, you can opt to make it private. So sending your partner a little love note or a post-match report from your sports team might be good examples of how it’ll be used. You can even include video, though the download cost might then start getting a little pricey.

A couple of final thoughts.

This is a real alternative to MMS, with the added advantage that it’s free. I’m pretty sure that the cost of download will be considerably cheaper than the cost of sending an MMS. But since the recipient is actually paying, it is economically possible to put together and promote a little micropublishing operation.

Finally, I do wonder where all this Java stuff will end up as faster connection speeds make the idea of off-line browsing redundant and presentation on the mobile web more sophisticated. Having said that, there’s a lot of potential in the short to medium term and perhaps the long term can look after itself for the meantime.

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