Can Alicia Keys Revive Blackberry?
Research In Motion attempted to turn around its fortunes in January with two brand new devices, new software and a name change. But for many the real head-turner was the unusual appointment of soul singer Alicia Keys as global creative director.
Many may have smirked at the idea that a singer/songwriter could come to the rescue a company that has been described as a sinking ship. But some analysts say her brand could be the key to the lock that brings the good times back for the Canadian tech giant, and suggest others should be consider such a move as well.
"Very smart marketing," Victor Basta, managing director of Magister Advisors, a boutique M&A advisor in the technology field, told CNBC.com.
Carolina Milanesi, the research VP at Gartner agreed, saying Keys would add some "cool factor".
"The main value in my view comes from the followers she can bring to the platform," she told CNBC.com.
(Read More: Why BlackBerry Is Failing)
Blackberry has reported several consecutive quarters of losses and is struggling to compete with Apple and Android-based phones. The stock hit a low of $6 in the middle of last year but has rallied in recent weeks to trade around the $14 mark. That is still a long way from its pre-financial crash price of $227 per share. It has pinned its hopes on a new smartphone released last month.
Tech brands using famous faces is not a new development. Two years ago, Will.i.am from the Black Eyed Peas was given the role of director of creative innovation at Intel. Actress and model Jessica Alba helped Microsoft launch Windows 8 last year.
"They are very, very unlikely to start shaping strategy or have any meaningful impact in my opinion," James Gautrey, global equity analyst at Schroders told CNBC.com, labeling Keys' appointment as a "gimmick".
Her new role didn't get off to the best start last week as a tweet sent from Keys' Twitter account was reported to have been sent from an iPhone, with the singer claiming later that she had been hacked.
"Blackberry should let Alicia Keys remain on the stage and not in the executive suit," David Garrity at GVA Research told CNBC.com.
"Are artists temperamentally suited to management roles and responsibilities? I sincerely doubt it, but let Blackberry learn from experience this hard lesson."
(Read More: All the Reasons Blackberry 10 Will Fail: Analyst)
David Pringle, a freelance content consultant for the tech industry told CNBC that firms like Blackberry have to think beyond just smartphones for success.
"There is a need for more creativity in the mobile handset industry," he said.
"Device designers should tap people from outside the industry who can offer fresh thinking. However, I have no idea if Alicia Keys is the right person."