By Keri Algar

SYDNEY, NSW: Smartphone ownership is expected to grow to more than half the Australian mobile population within the next year, while smartphone usage is replacing computers as a way of accessing certain online content, according to a Telstra survey released today.

Currently 36 per cent of Australians with mobile phones own a smartphone and the Telstra commissioned research estimates this to grow to over 50 per cent in the next 12 months, according to the inaugural Telstra Smartphone Index that was conducted by The Nielsen Company in June 2010.

The survey also revealed that smartphone ownership is changing the way Australians access online content, according to Rebekah O'Flaherty, Telstra consumer executive director.

“Telstra’s Smartphone Index suggests smartphones are beginning to eclipse PCs as the preferred way of accessing certain online content,” said O’Flahterty.

“Almost one in four smartphone owners visit social networking sites like Facebook on their mobiles more than on a computer. Surprisingly, we also found around 10 per cent are more likely to do their online banking from their phone than on their PC.”

The survey also threw up some quirky findings, for example, almost one third of Australians have used their smartphone to surf the web while on the toilet, over half use a smartphone in bed and one in five have surfed the web via their phone while driving.

Nor is the smartphone trend exclusive to the younger generation, with almost one in five owners aged over 50, and 41 per cent aged over 40.