By Nicholas Carlson
Apple just reported that it sold more than 5 million iPhones over the iPhone 5's opening weekend.
This is a very disappointing number.
It's below top Apple analyst Gene Munster's estimate of 6 million to 10 million. Worse, it indicates that growth may be slowing at Apple.
Take a look at this chart.
Opening weekend sales grew 70% between the 3GS and the iPhone 4, and then an astounding 135% between the 4 and the 4s. That's acceleration. iPhone 5 sales, meanwhile, grew only 25%. That's massive deceleration.
Nicholas Carlson/Business Insider
Digging deeper into the numbers, we find more bad news. Check out this second chart.
Apple sold the iPhone 5 in 9 countries over its opening weekend. It sold the iPhone 4S in 7. It actually sold fewer iPhones per country this year than the last. That's not just deceleration, that's shrinkage:
Decelerating growth is not good for a company like Apple, which despite a modest P/E ratio, has one of the most generous trailing 12 month revenue multiples of any hardware company on the public markets.