John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Former Nokia CEO Resurfaces at Set-Top-Box Software Company

OPK_D7Former Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo has finally figured out his second act.

Ousted from Nokia in September of 2010, after disastrously underestimating the threat posed by Apple’s iPhone and smartphones running Google’s Android OS, Kallasvuo hasn’t been heard from much the past three years. Presiding over a 70 percent decline in the market value of what was once the world’s largest maker of mobile phones is a tough thing to come back from. But now he’s popped back up on the radar with a new gig in a sector that’s commanding a lot of attention these days: Set-top boxes and Internet-connected TVs.

Swedish TV software company Zenterio has tapped Kallasvuo as chairman of the board. That seems an odd appointment on the face of it. The market Zenterio is after doesn’t exactly fall under Kallasvuo’s area of expertise (cough, Symbian). But then Zenterio began life as Nokia’s Home Communication division, a business the company divested in 2002. So there’s some history between Kallasvuo and the company he now chairs.

Beyond that? Who knows. Certainly Kallasvuo seems to have some big ideas for Zenterio and its Linux-based OS. “The operating system market for set-top boxes and [Internet protocol television] is extremely fragmented,” Kallasvuo told Reuters. “Each set-box manufacturer has its own software. What Zenterio can offer is a hardware-independent solution for pay-TV operators. … We are talking to many, many top-tier operators globally.”

One would think so. The set-top-box market is vast. By some estimates, worldwide shipments of the devices hit 250 million in 2012. So there’s a big opportunity here, and the market is open and ripe for disruption. But Zenterio is hardly the only player eyeing it. Google is still toiling away on its Google TV platform, which is similarly hardware-independent. And then there’s Apple, which is either working on a full-fledged Internet-connected TV, a set-top box, or something entirely different, depending on whom you talk to. Kallasvuo, of course, has experience battling them both, albeit unsuccessfully. Perhaps he’ll do better this time.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald