By Heri Rakotomalala of Montreal Tech Watch
Canadians use the Internet more than anyone in the world. According to comScore, Canadians spend on average 39.6 hours per month on the Internet, followed by Israel at 37.4 and South Korea at 34, while the USA is in 8th position with 29.4. Canada also leads in online reach with 70% of households having Internet access. The average pages viewed per visitor is 3800 in Canada, while the U.K. is second at 3300. And at 67%, Canada has one of the highest broadband penetrations in the world, 21 points higher than the US. Finally, while Canada still lags in online advertising, with $28.05 per Internet user and the US with $71.43, ad spending is expected to grow 32% this year (Ernst&Young LLP). So Canada is a sophisticated, and growing, market for Web apps.
As in any other country, Canadians heavily use Google, Yahoo and other global services like ebay and craiglist; each of which has their own english and french canadian localized versions. In social networking, Facebook is the star app of the moment. For instance, Toronto has more than 650.000 facebook users, more than the combined facebook users in New York, Boston and Los Angeles.
Top Web Apps
Canada has a lot of startups that are reaching the global market...
Shopify is a simple, affordable and stylish service that lets you create your own online store. It is targeted at inviduals who want to sell online, without any programming.
Freshbooks handles time tracking and invoicing. The service is used by freelancers and consultants in over 100 countries. Mike McDerment, an active canadian web entrepreneur, runs the company.
Stikipad lets you create a personal or a group wiki for free, with an easy-to-use user interface.
Librivox publishes on the public domain audio books, as read by users. The digital library ranges from contemporary to classics, philosophy to novels. Last finished project: James Joyce's Ulysses, with 32 hours of audio.
DabbleDB lets you create and share a database, and then build an application on top of it, without requiring programming skills. The platform is innovative, with a simple point-and-click interface.
Nowpublic.com is the largest user-written news site in the world, according to the Globe and Mail, thanks to a thriving community. It is based in Vancouver, BC.
Sxipper manages your online identity via a firefox extension and OpenID. It tracks usernames and passwords; and fills in online forms. Sxipper comes from Sxip, which is working on new identity models for the digital world.
wikitravel, which this year won a Webby Award for Best Travel Website, is a free travellers guide. It also is aiming to produce print travel guides. This wiki project was started in Montreal, Quebec, and advises a "fair" (not "neutral") point of view from its contributors.
Cambrian House is an online community where users "crowdsource" an idea. Participants then share the profits if the software is successful. Robhinhood Fund, a "web2.0 charity" website, started at Cambrian House.
ClubPenguin is a virtual word for kids, where they can play and interact. The self-funded company is already profitable via monthly subscriptions, with $60 million projected revenues this year.
GiveMeaning is an online community about news and projects that change the world for good.
ConceptShare is an online collaboration tool for designers and creatives, where they can annotate and discuss current work.
AjaxWhois.com is a DNS lookup service.
ilovetoplay.com is a sports social network where you can find additional players for your team.
YubNub.org is an online command line.
Innovation and startup culture in Canada
Canada has a long history of innovation and success. The most well known is Flickr, which started in Vancouver, BC, and then became one of the key applications in the web 2.0 landscape. StumbleUpon, which was acquired by ebay for $75M in March, was started in Calgary, Alberta. iStockphoto was a pioneer in micropayments in stock photography, and was bought by GettyImages.
The future is promising for Canadian startups. In Montréal, for instance, barcamps, democamps, monthly Tech Entrepreneur breakfasts, and early investors like montrealstartup, have revived the local tech community. We now have promising startups like Standoutjobs which aims to reinvent the recruiting process, by using video and social networking to promote the company's brand; or Kakiloc, a location-based social network which integrates with mobile phones. These are just two examples of the promising web apps being built in Canada and being presented to the world. Let us know what other web apps you know of from Canada, that we may've missed.