Many countries witnessed abnormal weather this past summer, from devastating heat waves in Europe to economy-chilling cold weather in Japan.

In light of growing interest in meteorological phenomena, a Chiba-based company that provides weather information via mobile phones is preparing to expand its services overseas.

Weathernews Inc., one of the world’s largest weather information companies, offers its data to newspapers, TV broadcasters and companies in the construction, shipping and agricultural sectors.

The company is placing an increasing emphasis on its mobile phone services, featuring information on local weather conditions, earthquakes and sports activities, including skiing and mountain-climbing conditions.

Thanks to its ties with the Vodafone group, NTT DoCoMo Inc. and KDDI Corp., Weathernews offers weather information to mobile phone users in Taiwan and 12 countries, including Japan, Germany, Britain, Spain, Australia, China and South Korea.

The company plans to launch its weather service in the United States by May.

“We have nearly 1 million users of our weather information services via mobile phones in Japan and overseas,” Weathernews official Tomohiro Ishibashi said.

Coming behind Japan in terms of the number of Weathernews clients are Germany, South Korea and Taiwan, where many people tap wireless information services, Ishibashi said.

Weathernews has built in Japan a system for analyzing worldwide weather information collected from Japanese, U.S. and European satellites, and for sending information overseas via the Internet, he said.

“Providing weather information via mobile phones will generate larger profits given the expansion of the overseas mobile phone wireless Internet service market,” Ishibashi said, noting many countries have lenient laws governing the release of weather information via mobile phones.

Weathernews is thus developing a variety of information content, including for third-generation mobile phones available overseas, he stressed, noting the firm currently sends satellite weather information and Earth images to third-generation mobile phone users in Japan.

Weathernews also offers Japanese customers a “wakeup” local weather information service featuring weather-data e-mail, with a music alarm.

The company offers other mobile phone weather information services via e-mail, including information on typhoons, rain and clouds.

“We have been offering such services via mobile phones for a monthly service fee of only 100 yen,” Ishibashi said.

Weathernews was established in 1986 from a division of Oceanroutes, a weather information company in the U.S., he said.

The company has become a major forecaster capable of offering worldwide weather information different from other operators in Japan, he added.

“We have no strong competitors offering similar services. Many private companies in Japan focus on local weather information, while many countries rely on public weather forecast stations,” Ishibashi said, adding that only Weathernews came up with a money-making service.

The company posted sales of 2.34 billion yen in the June-August period, up 3.3 percent from the same period last year.

“We have been helping expand the weather information market in Japan, and plan to create a mobile phone-based weather information market all over the world,” Ishibashi said.

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