This week sees the launch of Apple into the phablet market with its 5.5-inch screen iPhone 6 Plus, seven years after the launch of its original iPhone, and three years after Samsung launched the world's first popular phablet, the Samsung Galaxy Note.

The iPhone 6 comes in two versions, the  iPhone 6, with a 4.7-inch screen and the iPhone 6 Plus with a 5.5-inch screen, which is the largest screen smartphone produced by the Cupertino company so far. 

Apple's long-serving former co-founder and CEO, Steve Jobs (deceased) famously slammed big smartphones, and said “you can't get your hand around it" and claimed that "no one will buy them.”

Apple, however, changed their strategy boosting bigger screen smartphones and even producing a phablet. In four years, Apple gradually moved from a 3.5-inch  iPhone 4 screen - the last iPhone that Steven Jobs launched in June 2010,  to the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 screen and the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, two of which were launched this week.

Kiranjeet Kaur, a senior market analyst for the International Data Corporation (IDC) told the Anadolu Agency on Thursday "that this seems to be a move in the right direction as consumers have embraced large screen phones, or phablets, and Apple’s absence in this segment was hurting sales."

“The appeal of a larger screen phone has been consistently growing as smartphone usage has gone beyond just traditional calling, and people are spending more and more time browsing the web, watching videos and messaging on their smartphones,” she said.

Kaur said that it looks like Apple has taken a very measured approach to add a phablet to its portfolio, with this new launch.

According to the PC Magazine definition, phablet - a combination of the word 'phone' and 'tablet', is a smartphone with a 5” to 6” screen. “With a display larger than traditional smartphones, a phablet offers a better visual experience for viewing Web pages but can be bulky in an small shirt or pants pocket.”

- 'Future fueled by phablets'

The International Data Corporation forecasts “a future fueled by phablets”. According to a forecast published this month, world-wide phablet shipments will surpass portable PCs in 2014 and tablets in 2015.

The corporation - the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications and consumer technology markets said that worldwide phablet shipments will reach 175 million units world-wide in 2014 and 318 million units in 2015.

It expects phablets to reach 32.2 per cent (592.9 million units) of the world-wide smartphone market in 2018, up from 14.0 per cent (174.9 million units) in 2014.

Melissa Chau, Senior Research Manager at the International Data Corporation said that with Apple joining the space “we anticipate even more attention on phablets as larger screen smartphones become the new norm.”

- Samsung, Apple rivalry

The entrance of Apple into the phablet market will raise competition to new heights with its arch rival, South Korean-based Samsung.

The PC Magazine says that the first phablet was the Android-based Dell Streak in 2010, but the first popular phablet was launched by Samsung in 2011 with the Samsung Galaxy Note.

Samsung’s latest gadget on Galaxy Note series, the 5.7-inch Samsung Galaxy Note 4 now will compete with Apple's 5.5-inch phablet iPhone 6 Plus.

Kaur said the Cupertino company’s latest move "will obviously intensify the competition between Samsung and Apple, as in the high-end phablet segment, Samsung did not have to compete with Apple until now."