Here’s a surprise, given the U.S. stockouts, the disappointed customers and the queues already forming overseas in advance of the launch scheduled for Friday in 25 more countries:

The iPad 2 ship times on Apple’s AAPL U.S. online store improved this afternoon, shrinking to 3-4 weeks from 4-5 weeks just this morning. The wait is even shorter in, for example, New Zealand, where the iPad 2 ships in 2-3 weeks.

Could it be that the supply-chain problems analysts have been worrying about ever since the Japanese earthquake and tsunami have failed to materialize?

Also on
Apple preps for global iPad 2 stockouts
Inside the iPad 2 gray market
Piper Jaffray: iPad 2 totally sold out, 70% to new buyers

Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped.