Now text this. RingCentral adds messaging to cloud phone service

The new feature will make it possible to answer calls or send faxes and texts from a single business phone number, unifying communications.

Even those of us without teenagers in the house have grown used to the instant gratification that comes with sending text messages to communicate quickly with professional and personal contacts. But the big limitation, of course, is that we have to send these communiques to from mobile phone to mobile phone.

One of the small business Internet telephone service providers, RingCentral, is trying to change this. Starting in early 2013, RingCentral users will be able to use the business phone number provisioned through its service to send text messages.

That means that they can use a single phone number to send and receive calls, faxes or texts.

The theory is that this might improve the chances that a small business can connect with customers or customer prospects - essentially making them available all the time, no matter how someone wants to reach them.

The service will be added to RingCentral's Office offering, with starts at about $40 per month for a single users. It will support both Apple iOS and Android platforms.

Of course, if you really think about it, RingCentral's approach is another way of addressing the need for unified communications - such as the solution made possible by the Microsoft Office 365 cloud service . Both underscore the need for communications systems that reach across multiple platforms to help small businesses and individuals improve their availability and response rates.

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