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iPad 2 online ship times drop to 3 to 4 weeks

U.S. online buyers of Apple's new iPad now face a wait of only 3 to 4 weeks before the tablet ships, down from 4 to 5 weeks a few days ago.


Are the tight supplies of Apple's new iPad 2 starting to ease up?

U.S. consumers eager to buy the new iPad at the online Apple Store now face a delay of only 3 to 4 weeks before the tablet will ship. The new ship time, which hit the store yesterday, compares with a ship time of 4 to 5 weeks previously.

The new ship times are also now the same that Apple offered shortly after the iPad 2 first went on sale in the U.S. two weeks ago.

Online buyers in 25 other countries--including the U.K., New Zealand, and Australia--where the tablet made its debut today also are looking at wait times of 3 to 4 weeks. One nation not on the list is Japan, where Apple is postponing the new tablet's launch as the country tries to recover from the devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami.

Rumors about tight component supplies following the Japanese disaster took a bite out of Apple's stock late last week. But the company's deals with suppliers typically allow it to handle component shortages better than many other vendors.

The reduced online wait times follow a CNET story on Tuesday from Brooke Crothers, who reported that availability of the tablet at a few stores in Southern California seemed to be easing a bit. The Boy Genius Report yesterday also confirmed with different Apple store and third-party retail outlets that new shipments of the iPad have been reaching the stores lately.

In an attempt to deal with the onrush of eager customers, many Apple stores have been handing out a limited number of claim tickets early in the morning depending on how much stock they receive. Those tickets then guarantee the few near the front of the line a chance to buy an iPad 2.