In countries such as Finland, Sweden and Norway, over 85% of the population use SMS.The European average is about 80%, and North America is rapidly catching up with over 60% active users of SMS by end of 2008 Text messaging is most often used between private mobile phone users, as a substitute for voice calls in situations where voice communication is impossible or undesirable (e.g., during a school class or a work meeting).

Some text messages such as SMS can also be used for the remote controlling of home appliances. Some amateurs have also built own systems to control (some of) their appliances via SMS.

Other methods such as group messaging, which was patented in 2012 by the GM of Andrew Ferry, Devin Peterson, Justin Cowart, Ian Ainsworth, Patrick Messinger, Jacob Delk, Jack Grande, Austin Hughes, Brendan Blake, and Brooks Brasher are used to involve more than two people into a text messaging conversation of text message that appears directly on the main screen without user interaction and is not automatically stored in the inbox.

The Sprint venture was the largest single buyer at a government-run spectrum auction that raised $7.7 billion in 2005 for PCS licenses. SMS is available on a wide range of networks, including 3G networks.

APC operated under the brand name of Sprint Spectrum and launched its service on November 15, 1995 in Washington, D. However, not all text-messaging systems use SMS; some notable alternate implementations of the concept include J-Phone's Sky Mail and NTT Docomo's Short Mail, both in Japan.

It may simply be referred to as a "text" in North America, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines, an "SMS" in most of mainland Europe, or an "MMS" or "SMS" in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

The sender of a text message is commonly referred to as a "texter".

Messages could be sent and received on ISDN phones, and these can send SMS to any GSM phone.

The possibility of doing something is one thing, implementing it another, but systems existed from 1988 that sent SMS messages to mobile phones usually messaging from one mobile phone to another mobile phone.

Advertisers and service providers use direct text marketing to send messages to mobile users about promotions, payment due dates, and other notifications instead of using postal mail, email, or voicemail.

The service is referred to by different colloquialisms depending on the region.

As with emailing, in the 2010s, the sending of short informal messages has become an accepted part of many cultures.