Aliant is making a big deal out of a “new” service that lets their digital cell phone customers send and receive instant messages to and from MSN Messenger users on the Internet.
When I first read about this, I was excited, because I’ve used instant messaging a lot to communicate with colleagues and clients, and the notion of having this capability seamlessly following me out the door was very attractive.
Attractive, that is, until I started into the complex voodoo process of sending and receiving instant messages on my cell phone.
To their credit, this mostly isn’t the fault of Aliant: the system relies upon Microsoft’s kludgy way of getting cell phones, with their limited software and capabilities, wired into their instant messaging network.
How complex is it? Here are just some of the steps on the Aliant Accessing the MSN® Messenger Service through Text Messaging page:
- After completing the MSN sign-up process you should have received the following text message on your phone: MSN Messenger Service! To retrieve your contact list, reply to this message with CL. Save this number in your phone to view your contact list anytime.
- You should either save the 9 digit number attached to this message in your phonebook as “Messenger” (it will start with 2220) or save the text message. You will need this number to retrieve your contact list, turn off alerts and send instant messages.
- To retrieve your list of online contacts, create a new text message from the messaging menu of your phone and insert the 9 digit “Messenger” number you saved in your phone book. In the Message field type in the command “CL”, then send the message.
- You will receive a message back with a list your online contacts. You can chat with one of your contacts by replying to this message with the number of the contact you want to chat with ie 1 What’s up?
Now maybe it’s just me, but this all seems a lot like the instructions for how to use the UNIX ‘talk’ command back in 1981. Except that it’s more complicated.
The beauty of instant messaging clients is that anyone can figure out how to use them: double click on your friend’s name and start typing. Trying to contort a cell phone to do the same thing reflects just how primitive cell phone operating systems are.
Suggestion: if you need to chat with colleagues and clients from your cell phone, give them a call. Instructions:
- Dial number.