12/28/2011 01:43 EST | Updated 02/27/2012 05:12 EST

Google: Canada 'One Of The Fastest Growing Markets' And 'One Of Our Big Bets'

TORONTO - Google marked its 10th year in Canada by nearly doubling the size of its staff here and the Mountain View, Calif.-based company intends to make its Canadian presence even larger in 2012.

"Canada is one of the fastest growing markets for Google and it's one of our big bets corporately. It's a market that Google is very committed to and investing in heavily in terms of resources and growing very, very quickly," said Eric Morris, head of mobile advertising at Google Canada.

Morris was one of the first two Google employees to set up shop in Canada after the company first moved north in 2001. When asked if Google might double its Canadian staff again in 2012, from its current roster of about 300 employees, he said "hopefully."

"We hope to continue that robust pace well into 2012. We're going to continue to expand our business here and continue to hire and continue to invest in Canada."

The company currently has four Canadian offices, in Toronto, Waterloo, Ont., Montreal and Ottawa, and the employees there work on some of Google's top projects.

"Some of the smartest, smartest talent we have corporately comes out of Waterloo and some other places in Canada," said Morris.

"They've contributed to Gmail, some of our mobile apps, to commerce, to making the Internet safer and faster with things like Chrome and knocking out malware — so lots and lots of technological innovation has come from Canada."

Morris said Google's growing presence in Canada has a lot to do with the strong digital culture here and the way it's grown over the last decade.

In 2002, the company projected that 70 per cent of Canada's population would be online by 2017 — we're already past 80 per cent.

"If you think back to when Google first opened its office in Canada the Internet was a growing medium, but it was much, much smaller," he said.

"It was kind of mass media at the time, but today virtually everybody is online."

He admits it's tough to explain to his fellow Canadians why we're still not among the first to get access to some Google features, noting Google Voice in particular is "the toughest one."

"Yeah, I think that's frustrating. I'm a lover of tech and even because I work here I don't always get access to everything that I read about," Morris said.

"It's something we're working on. These are complicated products — when we can we launch globally — but there are some nuances to products, whether it's language issues or policy-related issues, that make global launches more challenging."

Canadians also do not yet have access to Google Wallet, which allows users to make payments in stores with a smartphone. In general, Canadian businesses are a bit behind when it comes to adopting e-commerce, which Google sees as an opportunity, Morris said.

"We think it's going to happen here and it's increasing each year. And as a result, that's a place Google wants to invest in to try and accelerate that process," he said.

Earlier this year, Google started a program called Get Your Business Online to help Canadian small businesses establish a web presence and embrace the web.

"Canada is certainly ripe for that kind of technological innovation ... so we hope to see it take off here soon."

Michael Oliveira, The Canadian Press