Can a computer (laptop or desktop) text message a cell phone, and can a cell phone text message a computer? If so, how?

Well, let’s clear one thing up right away: cell phone text messaging, or “SMS” text messaging is not the same as instant messaging on your computer. They’re two very different systems.

That doesn’t mean all is lost, however. There are some things you can do. How much depends mostly on the cellular provider, and the type of phone you have.

SMS Text Messaging

SMS stands for Short Message Service, and is designed specifically for cell phones.

You can usually send an SMS message to a cell phone via email. Most of the cell phone providers have a special email address or domain that you can send a message to, which then gets forwarded as a text message to the cell phone. For example, with Verizon in the U.S., you can email, where “##########” is replaced with the 10 digit cellular number, and that message will get sent as a text message to that phone. Other carriers typically have some type of equivalent, and/or a Web page from which you can send a text message to one of their phones.

Important: remember that this is a short message service… usually only up to a certain number of characters of your message will be sent. Some providers will simply truncate your message if it’s too long; others will break it up into multiple messages. Others might well discard, or bounce the message back to you. Check with the provider in question.

The reverse may also work. Again, using Verizon I was able to send a message via SMS on my phone to my email address.

In all cases, remember that this is email based, and that response times may be significantly longer as people do, or do not, check their email.

Instant Messaging

IM services, like AOL’s AIM, MSN’s Instant Messenger, and the others are all designed as what I’ll call “computer to computer” services. They all kinda sorta assume that you’ve got a computer of some sort. Fair enough.

Many cell phones these days pretty much are computers. Many cellphones run things like the Palm operating system, or a version of Windows.

And many have Internet capability.

So, it stands to reason that one might be able to find an instant messaging client for your cell phone. In my case, using my Treo and an unlimited data access plan from Verizon, I’m able to run the Mundu IM instant messaging client and chat using my MSN Instant Messenger account, or my AOL Instant Messenger account.

The big caveat here is that you must have an Internet capable cell phone and have signed up for an Internet data plan of some sort.


[tags]sms,cell phone,text messaging,leo notenboom,short message service[/tags]