“The End of the Smartphone Era is Coming” – the title of this blog definitely caught my attention. The end of the smartphone era, come on! That sounds ridiculous. And as the author of this blog acknowledged, many people disagree with this statement and I am one of those people.  I do agree with the author on one point, the smartphone will evolve. Into what I’m not sure. But, I’m 99% positive that it won’t turn into Google Glass computerized glasses.

Now these glasses are cool, very Total Recall, but I have a feeling they will be about as successful as 3D TVs – few and far between.  The power of mobile will not succumb to the allure of these glasses.  My main reason being, they cover your eyes and force you to focus on one thing, one thing!  This is unheard of in the age of the smartphone. Users want to simultaneously play Draw Something on their phone, watch tv, flip through a magazine on their iPad and FaceTime their friend from their laptop.  We can’t and won’t be siloed.  So don’t try to kill the smartphone with these glasses, simply redirect this technology – perhaps in the world of gaming…

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If a picture is worth a thousand words, then the above picture is worth a thousand and five words. Disney proved the power of overlaying text on an image with this graphic.  Following an increasing trend of graphic quotes on social media, Disney posted this image on Facebook Monday, July 16th at 1:57PM. With a fan base of over 37 million, this post was shared 95,000 times on Facebook thus far.  That is incredible to me!  But this is the reason why you are seeing a plethora of quotes embedded in images all across social media – particularly Facebook and Pinterest.

Bottom line: People love quotes and people love images. Put them together and you’ve got a winning combination.

It is probably just my strange obsession with the Tupac conspiracy – yes, I am one of those who believed he never died when he did – but when Tupac appeared during Snoop Dogg’s Coachella performance, it was one of the coolest things I’ve seen (on YouTube) in a long time! I would like to believe that it was really him but rumor has it that Tupac’s appearance was thanks to a visual effects house, Digital Domain Media Group. For this trick, the Group didn’t use a hologram, instead its a twist on the 19th century optical illusion magic trick.

Will this start a movement? This definitely caught the eye of concert goers and the world of YouTube. But, at an estimated cost of $100,000 to over $400,000, I don’t see this technology popping up everywhere. I do see it pushing the concert experience to new limits, inspiring other innovations to emerge. And not only within music, I can see this sort of innovation trickling into them realms of retail marketing, movies and video games.

QR codes remind me of the 2004 film, Mean Girls, in which the character Gretchen keeps on using this made up word, ‘fetch’ in hopes that she would start a catchphrase. Finally, some screamed at her, “Gretchen, stop trying to make ‘fetch‘ happen!” This is exactly what I want to say to marketers; “stop trying to make QR codes happen!”

In theory, QR codes seem like a great marketing tool – you can easily track data, they are (or were) innovative, the technology is relatively inexpensive, they can provide a great deal of information to consumers, and they require customer interaction.  But in practice, most QR codes prove to be a waste of money, time, and resources.  According to a survey released by Chadwick Martin Bailey earlier this year, “57% of consumers who have scanned a QR code say they did nothing with the information, compared to 21% who shared the information with someone and 18% who made a purchase.”  You don’t need to be an analyst to see that these numbers are not on the side of the QR code. If consumers aren’t using them, then what is the point?

Why aren’t consumers using QR codes? The reasons why could be many:  Does the consumer understand this technology? Maybe they don’t like to proactively seek out their marketing (smartphones do not automatically come equipped with a QR code reader, you have to download an app)? Google thinks people are scared for security issues.  Or maybe it’s because marketers have fallen on their faces too many times offering consumers useless information via codes (i.e. scanning the code takes you directly to the company’s homepage. Have you heard of a URL?) or they have released QR codes with poor execution and strategy that they have simply become laughable (see all the awful uses of QR codes here: wtfqrcodes.com).

Whatever the actual reasoning may be, the point is, consumers aren’t using them.  Yet, it’s hard to turn the corner or the page without seeing a QR code. Even if marketers stepped up their QR code game, which they have (see Scandinavian Airlines‘ or FirstBank‘s initiatives), it seems like the past is working against them. Marketers are going to fight an uphill battle to make these work.  Personally, I think it is time to jump the shark (if it hasn’t already been jumped) and move on. QR codes have lost their luster in consumer’s eyes, so marketers, it’s time to take off those sunglasses and see the reality of things.

Pinterest is going to be huge this year. And I think this not just because I love the site, but because of the burst of user growth in such a short time. This growth even happened despite Pinterest.com being an “invitation-only” network. Plus, according to a Shareaholic’s “Referral Traffic Report, “Pinterest drives more referral traffic than Google Plus,  LinkedIn and YouTube combined.”  This is HUGE!!!

For those who don’t know what Pinterest is, it is basically a marriage of social bookmarking and a virtual “inspiration board.” Users can see something on the web and “pin it.” Then you organize all these “pins” by categorizing them and placing them on boards.  For instance, I have a board called “Yummy,” and within this board, I have “pins” of different recipes I want to try out in the future. It’s akin to seeing something in a magazine, tearing it out, and saving it in a folder for future use.  In short, it is a social media network that allows users to show off their taste to friends, organize by topic, and share effortlessly with a click of a button.

To add to its success, Pinterest is connected to Facebook – the biggest social media site out there. This connection can only increase Pinterest attention and traffic, leading to a steady stream of new users. With this kind of momentum, brands and advertisers are being forced to take notice. Once more and more brands join, you can consider Pinterest a success in 2012. However, not all brands should invest in this social, it should be for brands that want to sell a lifestyle.

As a clothing brand or designer, you can showcase different outfit choices for people to “pin.”  As a food product, you can add recipes using your product as an ingredient. But word to the wise, do not do what Cabot Cheese has done. They have upset users by spamming friend’s pins with comments on how the recipes would be better if they used Cabot products instead.

There is a lot of potential in this medium, and it will be interesting to see the creative ways brands reach out to users. Though all the potential ways brands will use Pinterest is unknown, we do know (or I think it is safe to assume) that Pinterest will be huge in 2012.

1. Adele – 21: Adele pushes her voice to the limit and her lyrics and tone resonate. After listening to the album, you just want to give her a standing ovation…

2. Bon Iver – Bon Iver: For Emma, Forever Ago, was a hard album to follow. But Bon Iver does it with this self titled album. It takes you away with beautiful sounds and thought provoking lyrics.

3. Jim Ward – Quiet in the Valley, On the shore the End Begins & The Elec: This album is based on old EPs, but when I listened to this album, it was like hearing these songs for the first time.

4.  Lykke Li – Wounded Rhymes: Not as catchy as Youth Novels, but this one will chill you to your bones. You’ll be memorized by the end.

5. Rihanna – Talk That Talk: She’ll stay on top with this album. Lot’s of #1 singles in the mix.

6.  Foster the People – Torches: One word, “Pumped Up Kicks.” It was probably stuck in your head at some point this year. Like that song, the album is all too catchy and danceable.

7. Florence + the Machine – Ceremonials: I got hooked with “Shake It Out’ and it took a while before I listened to the entire album, but once I did, I got hooked on the entire album. She definitely went “bigger” with this album.

8.  Cut Copy – Zonoscope: A great flowing album from start to finish. It wasn’t exactly In Ghost Colours caliber, but this album has some great sounds.

9. Britney Spears – Femme Fatale: Not usually a Spears fan, but this might be her best album – maybe because of the intense auto-tuning. Great summer album with quite a few hit singles that will keep you dancing.

10. Arctic Monkeys – Suck It And See: This is the first album that I really liked since Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. This band is really maturing and I hope it continues in this direction.

Martin Scorsese’s Hugo is truly an enchanting cinematic experience. It may appear to be a fun children’s film, but there is too much depth and art to this film to simply be a “children’s film.”

Set in 1930’s Paris, the story revolves around an orphan, Hugo, who lives in the walls of a train station and is in charge of up-keeping the station’s clock. Before living in the train station, he learned his mechanical skills from his father (Jude Law) who was a master clock-maker.  Tragically, Hugo’s father dad died in a museum fire, leaving him to his alcoholic uncle who lived in the train station.  The only thing Hugo has left of his father is a half-fixed automaton, which he disparately tries to make work again.

The plot kicks in to high gear when Hugo gets caught stealing a wind up toy (pieces for the automaton) from a  toy-shop proprietor.  The owner, Monsieur Georges, makes Hugo work for him, in return, he will not turn him in to the authorities. While working for him, Hugo, and Monsieur Georges’ adopted daughter, Isabelle, become friends. Together, they bring to life the automaton and uncover the hidden past of Monsieur Georges. (SPOILER ALERT) He is the great Georges Melies; director, actor, and magician.   

With this discovery, the film takes a great turn. One that film enthusiast will love.  It takes you on a trip into cinematic history; taking a look back at the roots of film. It really opens up your eyes to see how far film has come since its beginnings.  I think it is no coincidence that this film is in 3D or why Scorsese decided to make this film his first film in 3D (even though, Scorsese says it was his daughter’s influence). It is not a meaningless gimmick, it adds depth to the film and becomes integral in telling his story. It is a story wrapped up in innovation, film preservation, and the act of evoking emotions.

In the film, they talk about the Lumiere Brothers’ film, Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat (1895). When they first screened this film, the audience shrieked and ducked when the train pulled into the station. We might not understand this today, especially when looking back at this film but, this was a completely new experience for audiences. Scorsese was able to reformat the Lumiere Brothers’ film in 3D for Hugo. So today’s audience could experience the same emotions of those back in 1895, making it seems like the train is barreling through the screen into the audience with the new innovation of 3D.  Really spectacular.

If you love cinema, you will love this film. It is both artistic and thoughtful!