Less than three months after its $132 million investment in OpenTV (NASDAQ:OPTV), digital security company Kudelski is already throwing its weight around. Armed with a 74.7% slice of shareholder votes, the company has installed Alan Guggenheim as OpenTV's CEO, and added seven new members to its board. It's a promising start toward improving the company's performance, but the payoff likely remains years away.

OpenTV makes high-tech software to deliver digital and interactive television, offering users cool features such as games, e-commerce, and digital video recording. The business managed to post a 17% increase in revenue last year, to $101.9 million. But its sales results tend to be lumpy and uneven, in part because OpenTV's software sales cycle can take as much as four years to begin recognizing revenues.

For evidence of OpenTV's ups and downs, consider its fourth-quarter results. Revenues increased only 11%, to $26.7 million, and the company registered a net loss of $3.4 million, or $0.03 per share.

On the conference call, CEO Guggenheim waxed optimistic about the market opportunities arising from growth in digital television. He also promised that he will present a comprehensive strategic plan in due course.

Let's hope the plan sets forth a solid case for dealing with cutthroat competitors like Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO). OpenTV's relationship with News Corp. (NASDAQ:NWS) may also pose a prickly problem. Though it's one of OpenTV's marquee customers, News Corp. also controls NDS Group, one of the company's direct competitors.

Investors are understandably worried, and OpenTV's stock price has plummeted from $4 in June to $2.50 recently. OpenTV is a fairly small company, competing with gargantuan competitors for long-term megaprojects. That's usually not a situation where Fools find solid investment ideas.

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Fool contributor Tom Taulli, author of The Complete M&A Handbook, does not own shares mentioned in this article. He is currently ranked 1,817 out of 24,388 in CAPS.