The business wires’ new verbal tic: Apple is ‘losing steam’

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FORTUNE — How do you describe a company that grew like gangbusters but has entered a patch of slower growth?

Some desk editors at the business news services have hit on what they seem to think is the perfect phrase: Apple (AAPL) is “losing steam.”

Last week it was Bloomberg News with this headline:

Harvard Liquidates Apple Stake After IPhone Sales Lose Steam

Which as we took pains to point out didn’t do a particularly good job of describing either Harvard’s investment strategy or the iPhone’s sales growth. See: Bloomberg’s lazy Apply bias.

Then, on Tuesday, Reuters weighed in with this headline:

Sharp to seek Samsung edge for survival as Apple sales lose steam

Several problems with that one:

  • What’s reportedly losing steam, when you read the story, are Sharp’s orders from Apple, not Apple’s overall sales.
  • The writer claims — without citation — that “analysts project annual profit growth at Apple to average less than 5 percent over the next decade, compared with an average of 60 percent over the past five years.” That may come as a surprise to the analysts polled by Thomson Financial. They’re anticipating Apple’s profits to grow 20.88% per annum over the next five years.
  • Even those growth estimates are based on the assumption that Apple has nothing new up its sleeve. No new product categories. No new disruptions.
  • And nobody but Asymco‘s Horace Dediu seems to be paying close attention to the iTunes Store, which as he notes is growing steadily — without losing any steam at all — at a compound rate of nearly 30% a year. For Dediu’s latest on the subject, see The allure of iTunes or tune into last Sunday’s Critical Path podcast: Blessed are the apps.
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