BlackBerry’s short, unnecessary relationship with singer Alicia Keys has reached its end.
Keys, who became BlackBerry’s “global creative officer” almost a year ago, has stepped down from her post. The move ends a short tenure for Keys, who did just about nothing of real value for BlackBerry (but probably got paid handsomely either way).
While BlackBerry isn’t giving a reason for the split, that reason should be pretty clear: BlackBerry today isn’t the same as it was when Keys signed on. A year ago, former CEO Thorsten Heins was neck-deep in his vision of BlackBerry as a viable consumer-focused company. Since then, Heins has been fired, several other execs got the axe, and BlackBerry is about to lay off 40 percent of its employees.
But Keys’s departure also points to a more telling cultural shift at BlackBerry, which is unlikely to ever appoint someone to her former spot. As new CEO John Chen has stressed, BlackBerry is shifting to a company almost entirely focused on its enterprise customers, particularly those who can’t get rid of their BlackBerry phones even if they tried. BlackBerry, in other words, is becoming a company greatly reliant on vendor lock in, which is antithetical to “creativity” as you can get.
Key’s departure, in that sense, is hugely symbolic, and is yet another sign that BlackBerry is going to be a very different company in 2014 than it was in 2013.