There is at least a 7-in-10 chance that you can now find an iPhone 5 on store shelves, according to one analyst Wednesday. The once-elusive smartphone may soon be available for same-day purchase from Apple Stores, the Wall Street observer told investors. The report by Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster (I know, don’t start) follows news that iPhone 5 units ordered through Apple’s website have a two-week shipping delay, down from as much as three weeks. His comments echo those by fellow Apple watcher Shawn Wu of Sterne Agee, who described the wider availability of the iPhone 5 as “much improved”

“AT&T and Verizon have shown dramatic improvements in availability, while Sprint maintained consistent availability”, writes Munster (via Fortune).

We’ve noticed in past weeks that availability of the handset has improved at Apple’s retail outlets and on its online store, which now quotes a two-week shipping delay.

Munster and his team found the iPhone 5 for Sprint was available at 92 percent of Apple Stores. AT&T and Verizon versions of the new iPhone were the next most plentiful, at 82 percent and 72 percent respectively.


Piper Jaffray’s iPhone 5 availability chart

Just in time for the rush of holiday shoppers, Munster said he expects “within the next two weeks that customers will be able to purchase iPhone 5s at Apple Stores the next day”.

It appears Apple is confident about iPhone 5 inventory levels. Indeed, the Cupertino firm started airing two new iPhone 5 ads as we head into the holidays.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xHquhlr45w#!

Earlier this month, Wu told investors the problems with the iPhone 5 supply chain had moved from component makers to assemblers, such as Foxconn, whose chairman Terry Gou recently called the iPhone 5 “the most difficult device” his workers have had to assemble.

Apparently, even assemblers are having an easier time getting completed iPhone 5 units out the door. The increased availability of the device is of particular importance for Apple.

Analysts predict the iPhone maker could sell 46.5 million smartphones during the December quarter, a huge increase over September, when the company announced 26.9 million iPhones sold amid the supply-demand imbalance.

What are you seeing?

Is it easier to find an iPhone 5?