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BlackBerry to end partnership with ‘creative director’ Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys is set to leave her role as ‘global creative director’ at stumbling mobile maker BlackBerry at the end of this month after a year in the position.

The award-winning singer-songwriter teamed up with the Waterloo, Ontario company to great fanfare in January 2013, with then-CEO Thorsten Heins wheeling her out with the all-new Z10, the BB10 handset BlackBerry executives hoped would transform the company’s fortunes. It didn’t.

Keys, we were told at the time, would oversee BB10-related creative projects, though for many people the appointment was little more than a PR stunt designed to highlight the new phone and mobile platform.

Despite appearing at various corporate events and working on a scholarship program encouraging young women to become more involved in the fields of science and technology, Keys’ biggest BlackBerry-related headline-grabbing moment came for all the wrong reasons when tweets posted from her verified Twitter account in February indicated an iPhone had been used. Keys claimed at the time that her account had been hacked.

The parting of ways should be good for both – struggling BlackBerry will be able to save a few bucks while Keys can separate herself from a brand that has failed to make a go of the platform she was hired to promote.

With rival handsets from the likes of Apple and Samsung proving popular with consumers, and BlackBerry’s share of the US market tanking, the ailing company has been forced to make big changes in recent times, laying off thousands of workers, firing its CEO, and, after failing to find a buyer, agreeing to a strategic investment from a group headed by Toronto-based Fairfax Financial.

Its most recent earnings report made for grim reading, showing a $4.4 billion loss for Q3 2013, together with a big write-down of assets.

New CEO John Chen has promised to focus less on the consumer market and more on its traditional base of enterprise users. In a commentary piece for CNBC published earlier this week, he said, “When it comes to enterprise, we’re still the leader. Don’t be fooled by the competition’s rhetoric claiming to be more secure or having more experience than BlackBerry.”

As for the likelihood of a replacement global creative director, we’re not expecting an announcement anytime soon.

[Source: CTV News]