TORONTO - At a time when many companies are drastically cutting jobs, Google Canada says it's hiring in all of its offices and has good reason to grow: Canada is more into Google and its products than just about any other country.
Google has posted help-wanted ads for 16 positions in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Waterloo, Ont. The company has about 100 Canadian employees in all.
Google is now looking for a new head of industry, software engineers, administrative assistants and other staff to help take advantage of Canada's base of extraordinarily plugged-in Internet users, Jonathan Lister, Google Canada's country manager and managing director, said in a recent interview.
"I think we recognize there's an incredibly engaged Canadian audience, that Canadians are different from other online consumers or other people who are online," Lister said.
"The fact that Canadians search twice as much as Americans, according to comScore data, is unbelievable. Canadians are (each) searching (an average) of 143 times a month - those aren't small differences or small changes, that's a pretty significant and quite powerful difference."
Studies also suggest Canadians spend about a third more time online than Americans, Lister said, while YouTube, Google's video streaming site, is more popular in Canada than in any other country.
"We're clearly massively engaged and that's one of the reasons Google is so interested in Canada - we look at this Canadian audience and it is on balance one of the most engaged audiences around the world," he said.
"We're hiring a significant number of people in Canada relative to our base - we're hiring in sales, marketing, partnerships, engineering; we're hiring almost everywhere across the board in Canada.
"That's a testament to how firmly we believe in the market and how strong and how impressive we think the market will be."
But Lister admits Canada has lagged - and may continue to lag - behind the U.S. market when it comes to getting access to Google's latest and greatest online tools.
Google Street View was first launched in the U.S. in May 2007 but just arrived in Canada in October. Google says it has now charted more than a dozen Canadian cities, covering more than 50,000 kilometres of city streets. Google cameras are also in the process of filming 35 cities in all of the provinces and territories except Nunavut.
Canadians were clearly eager to try out the new feature, as Google's normal traffic stats for Street View were doubled the first day it launched in Canada.
"We try as often as possible to roll products out (simultaneously in Canada)," Lister said, and added that Street View's release in Canada was delayed to satisfy stakeholders' privacy concerns.
"We knew we were compliant with laws but we'd gone a step further and made the people who had privacy issues more comfortable and we made changes accordingly," he said.
Lister couldn't say when Canadians will get access to some of Google's newer products, like Google Voice and the new GPS functions in Google Maps for mobile devices.
"The mobile phone community is quite different in Canada, the carrier market is quite different in Canada, so I don't have a date," he said, and added that Canada's relatively small population can make it difficult to launch some products.
"There are just larger (telephone companies) in the U.S. and scale is important. There's no question we want to make products that we can roll out globally so having partners with larger audiences and partners with a larger footprint is important to Google."