sms messaging, text messaging, messaging, instaply, smbSince the advent of the text message, some of us noticed that weeks go by while we intend to call to make an appointment with the hairdresser, doctor or auto mechanic, but fail to actually do so.

Phone calls aren’t really that hard, but they seem harder, at least to about a third of Americans, than text messaging.

Enter Instaply. It allows users and participating businesses to exchange text messages. The app consists primarily of a directory that can be searched by venue name or category of business. To contact a listed business, the user selects it and then composes a (free) text message. Neither party sees the other’s phone number, so consumers don’t risk having their mobile phones spammed.

“Instaply wants to fundamentally change the way consumers and businesses interact. When it comes to contacting businesses, the existing communication channels are too restrictive, slow and unsatisfying and break down rather than build up relationships,” said Instaply CEO Fabien Degaugue in a press release.

Business owners can use the service from their iPhone or Android devices or the desktop Web. They can set the app to auto-respond to texts outside of business hours. But businesses that consistently fail to respond to texts within an hour during hours they’ve indicated they are available will be kicked out of the app directory.

Instaply, which is based in San Francisco, launched yesterday in a private beta.