@AC "Er, hang-on a minute. You appear to be crediting Apple with being the first company to release a telephone with a working voice control function. Just for clarity, is that what you are doing? Seriously??"
No, I don't think that's what he's saying at all and I think you know that.
Apple may not invent many things, but you have to give them credit for being a company that takes existing technology and steps it up a gear and integrates it better than the competition.
I have used many phones with 'working' voice control systems before and to be honest I try it once or twice and then give up because they are always limited in function and usefulness. What I haven't ever used is a phone where the voice recognition is so deeply embedded that I can schedule meetings, set reminders, dictate emails, ask random questions, move meetings around, play a certain genre of music, etc. all using natural speech. One where I don't have to follow an exact script of only a few phrases. So although Apple didn't invent it, they were the first to embed it so deeply and seamlessly into a handset. I agree that Apple does deserve some credit for pushing existing technology further than their competitors and often making it actually useful.
Having used smartphones for many years, and having had PDAs before that, I have to say the iPhone UI was a complete revelation. And if Apple hadn't created it, we would still be stuck with fiddly, cramped Windows PocketPC, using styluses and tapping on tiny menus. I for one am glad Apple produced the iPhone because of how it shook up the 'set in its ways' phone industry. We now have many competing smartphones to choose from, with far better UIs than they would have had without the kick up the arse that the iPhone gave them. Hopefully Siri will be the kick that the industry needs to make speech recognition a truly useful technology and not just a gimmick no one uses.