NEW YORK - When it comes to tech, Alicia Keys is a girl on fire. Earlier this month in Las Vegas she headlined a concert at the Consumer Electronics Show on behalf of Monster. In the past, the popular Grammy-winning singer-songwriter has done work on behalf of Hewlett-Packard. But at the big BlackBerry 10 coming out party in New York on Wednesday, Keys took the stage for a rather startling announcement: she'd be joining BlackBerry as the phone maker's new "Global Creative Director."
The company formerly known as Research In Motion hired Keys to work closely with app developers, content creators, retailers, carriers and the entertainment community to help shape and promote the BlackBerry 10 platform.
"I think bringing Alicia Keys in was really kind of clever," says Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg. "It's one thing to bring in a celebrity at launch and have them perform. It's another thing to bring in a celebrity and say this is our new creative officer."
Keys, who did not sing at the event, joked about how she had been in a relationship with a BlackBerry until she broke up with the smartphone for another (unnamed) sexier rival. With BlackBerry 10 she was wooed back.
(This phone is created) "for me," Keys says. "How do we function and how do we manage as different people? How do we manage as family people, how do we manage as creative people doing multiple things at multiple times? That's a really important concept for me and (I think BlackBerry) is in sync with that. "
As part of her new role, Keys will be trying to make BlackBerry more appealing to women. "When I think of BlackBerry I think of a more male-dominated space," she says. "But knowing how much the (female) demographic is growing and moving, there needs to be that attention there."
Keys wouldn't disclose the length of her association with BlackBerry, except to say "it'll be as long as we're being creative together, and that will be a long time."
"I find that in my life a majority of people may consider one phone a play phone and they consider a BlackBerry a work phone," Keys says. "I think that there is an incredible opportunity to bridge that gap. We can create one device that allows you to do everything. So those things that you might consider play you can still be able to do on your BlackBerry 10. And those things that you consider work you obviously do at the highest efficiency on the BlackBerry 10."
What may make her effort - and BlackBerry's - successful, Gartner analyst Gartenberg says, is that Keys "identifies with a whole different audience than BlackBerry is usually associated with."