When I decided to go ahead and get a cell phone in the US as well, I assumed that this fine system would continue.
Alas, while most people under 60 now do seem to have cell phones, they seem to be baffled at the notion of using them differently (less obtrusively) than regular phones. I'd send someone an SMS and find out weeks later that it was received but that they "don't know how to answer" or "don't want to pay to do that."
It was very puzzling, so I was glad to see Danah Boyd explain the history of North American text messaging and compare it to the European model.
As she points out, the cell phone business is run very differently in America than in Europe. In Europe, you normally buy credit as needed and you don't pay for anything incoming, so your friends can contact you whether or not you've used up your credit. In America, you normally have a "plan" that allows some specific amount of voice calling plus (or not plus) other services. Even the pay-as-you-go plans are kind of weird; I've run out of credit on mine because someone called me when I was low on credit. It's not very much fun to have your phone act like a pay phone that's run out of change in mid-conversation.
I'm not too impressed with the American mode. I don't want to pay for anything incoming, and I don't want to have to talk to people when it would be easier and less troublesome on both ends to use SMS. If I want to have a good talk with someone, I'd rather SMS them first to see if it's convenient, not interrupt whatever they might be doing.
I suspect, however, that the American method is designed to let people run up the bill as quickly as possible. Ah, capitalism!