Norman, Okla.,-Based Weather Decision Technologies Enters Latin America Mobile Partnership

Article excerpt

The weather - a favorite topic of conversation, an entertainment option or a factor in scheduling a day - continues to be a growing business opportunity for a local company.

Weather Decision Technologies, based in Norman, has built its 10- year company by providing weather content around the world to customers ranging from the media to utility companies to aviation. In the last few years, the company's investment has been in the mobile space, an area where it expects huge growth in the next few years.

WDT recently contracted with NII Holdings Inc., a provider of mobile application services operating under the Nextel brand in Latin America, for its first international mobile partnership. WDT's iMap widget for the Android phone should put its services in front of at least 1 million mobile device users in Latin America in the next few years, said Mike Eilts, president and CEO of WDT.

"Weather is the No. 1 piece of information on mobile devices," Eilts said. "We believe we are the leading weather content company in the United States, so mobile is a very natural extension of getting content to the consumers."

WDT's initial business model for Latin America is to provide the iMap weather widget with a way to up-sell to an application that provides more weather information, Eilts said. The popularity of weather domestically is well-known because people, on average, use a mobile widget or app two or three times a week. But the international market is less sure because weather forecasts and radar data aren't as widely available, he said. However, with WDT's global forecasting capabilities, the Latin American opportunity is a good way to test the waters.

"Initially, we want to gain a lot of scale, and Android is just the first phone," he said. "We don't know yet if we can make a lot of revenue on this, but it's a good step to go into Brazil, Mexico and Argentina."

The arrangement is a bonus for NII Holdings as well because it stands to gain more phone usage and gets a better value proposition for its customers.

"We were impressed with the iMap widget and decided to launch the iMapMobile application as a pre-loaded feature of our first- generation Android device, the Motorola i1," said Bob Ewald, vice president of product management for NII Holdings. …

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