Apple catching up to iPhone 5 demand at US Apple Stores

After Foxconn admitted to falling behind iPhone 5 orders, it seems that supply of Apple’s popular handset is finally catching up with demand. That’s the word from one veteran Apple watcher who told investors Friday that inventory of the smartphone at Apple’s brick-and-mortar stores are at their highest level yet. For the first time, availability of iPhone 5 models for AT&T, Verizon and Sprint customers topped 20 percent.

The iPhone 5 version for Sprint remains the most available, with 84 percent of  Apple Stores reporting inventory for that model. The AT&T version followed with 54 percent and Verizon with 24 percent, according to a Wall Street survey conducted by Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster…

“We believe this is an important step for Apple as it appears they are finally gaining momentum in being able to keep up with demand for the iPhone 5”, Munster wrote Friday (via Appleinsider).

Improved availability and increased production capacity should help the iPhone re-gain the title of both America’s and world’s best-selling individual smartphone model, recently lost to Samsung’s Galaxy s III.

The analyst and his team conducted nightly surveys of a hundred Apple Stores to gauge inventory of Apple devices. Their latest survey indicates the iPhone 5 could be consistently available within 2 to 3 weeks.

The online US Apple Store at post time quoted a delivery estimate of 3-4 weeks for the handset. Orders are limited to two per customer.

In October, Munster warned that iPhone 5 supply was “extremely limited”.

While the high-profile analyst shaved two million handsets off his prediction for Apple’s September quarter, Munster remained confident that the company would sell 49 million iPhones during the December three-month period.

Munster’s latest comments appear to dovetail with those of fellow Apple observer, Shaw Wu.

Thursday, Wu told investors the iPhone 5 supply crunch had “much improved”. Indeed, the Sterne Agee analyst predicted Apple would sell 46.5 million smartphones during the December quarter, just below Munster’s forecast.

The reason for the rosier outlook?

The iPhone 5 bottleneck appears no longer in the supply chain, but in difficulty some Apple partners are experiencing assembling the more complex product.

Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou admitted in October that his factories are “falling short of meeting the huge demand”.  He previously described the iPhone as “the most difficult device”  his workers have had to assemble.

Are you having better luck finding an iPhone 5 at Apple Stores for your carrier?