BlackBerry Ltd (BBRY) Confirms Departure Of Alicia Keys

BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) announced Thursday that it will cut ties with its global creative director Alicia Keys on January 30. The Canadian company had hired the Grammy award-winning singer / songwriter in January, 2013 with the release of BB10 smartphones.

What Keys did for BlackBerry

Her stint at BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) drew widespread criticism from industry experts. They argued that Keys was given a corporate title, but she was nothing more than a popular face that can promote BB10 smartphones. Her loyalty to BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) was also questioned when she posted an update through an iPhone. Later, Keys said that her Twitter account was hacked.

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Alicia Keys appeared at the company’s corporate events and in promotional materials. She also promoted Z10 and Q10 devices on social media through her Twitter account. During her latest concert tour, Keys incorporated the BB10 device into one of her live performances. However, Z10 and Q10 both turned out to be duds. The BB10 smartphones were seen as the company’s last shot at revival as BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) lost most of its market share to iPhones and Android-based smartphones.

BlackBerry no longer needs Keys?

BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) and Alicia Keys are parting ways at a time when the struggling company is shifting its focus from consumer market to business clients. Over the last few months, BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) failed to sell itself. Many senior executives including former CEO Thorsten Heins have been fired. Then the company raised $1 billion in convertible debentures.

Under the new CEO John Chen, BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) has undergone several notable changes. Chen aims to make BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) a profitable company by the end of 2016. He has been focusing on the company’s core strength, i.e., loyal corporate clients. BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) has also joined hands with Foxconn Technology Co., Ltd. (TPE:2354) to design and manufacture low-cost smartphone for emerging markets. That will reduce costs for the company.

BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TSE:BB) shares inched down 0.65% to $7.60 in pre-market trading Friday.