It is hard to imagine that Skype (S MSFT), a service that is so deeply embedded into our broadband life, is nine years old. August 29, 2003 is the official birthday of the service, which celebrated its ninth birthday just ahead of the long holiday weekend here in the United States. It is a service that started as a simple idea – free calling for everyone who had an Internet connection. That radically simple idea changed the telecom industry and the voice-calling business forever.

Looking back, it is clear as day that the service succeeded in what it set out to do. Research from Telegeography projected that at the end of 2011, Microsoft-owned Skype accounted for 33 percent of all long-distance minutes – 145 billion of the total 438 billion minutes. According to Skype CEO Tony Bates, Skype has 254 million monthly active users and is “growing somewhere around 40% year on year.”

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