Difference Between SMS and IM

Text messaging has really become an important part of communication in today’s world. With mobile text messaging, there is no need to make a special call just to deliver one small message. Text messaging is not limited to mobile phones only, as internet offers great chatting facility.

So, there are two different ways of sending a message from one place to another; SMS or Short Messaging Service, and IM or Instant Messaging. The main purpose of both services is same, but there is a major difference between how they work.

An SMS is sent through a mobile company’s network, while an IM goes through the internet. Another major difference is their capacity. One cannot write more than 160 characters in a single SMS, whereas an IM has no boundary of this kind.

The mobile company charges a specific amount of money on each SMS. On the other hand, the instant messaging is virtually free. You pay your internet connection fee though.

An IM works through software. For instance, you need a messenger to send a message. On the other hand, an SMS is limited by country. An international SMS is way more expensive than a local one. On the contrary, an IM stays free of cost, no matter where you send it.


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    Consists of 160 characters, an SMS is a text message that goes from one mobile to another. Gone are the days when an SMS was very expensive. Due to the ongoing competition between the mobile networks, the rate of an SMS has come down dramatically.

    The latest technology has given many new dimensions to this service. For example, an SMS can even be sent from a website to the mobile phone. There are many websites that offer free SMS service. According to the approximate figures, there are nearly 3.6 billion active users of SMS.

    Image Courtesy: textagirl.org

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    It is a simple form of communication that is possible only through internet. It means that both the sender and the receiver need to have an internet connection. There are several messengers that support this service, such as Yahoo Messenger, Windows Messenger and Google Talk.

    Instant messaging actually offers a real time direct online chat. With two different people online at different destinations, they can chat instantly. Unlike SMS, the instant message reaches the receiver very quickly.

    Image Courtesy: greenplanet.com

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