Release day preorders are shipped directly from China. It was the same situation with the 3GS and iPhone 4. They go from China, to Hong Kong, to Alaska, and then to the USB hub in Kentucky. If they arrive in Kentucky early, they are held there until 1-2 days before release day. Each year, a few slip through and leave Kentucky early and they are delivered two days early. I think one guy received his Verizon 4S today. Last year, most of us got them one day early.
Umm, lots of posts/threads here about shipments coming from China. And yeah, does anything come from somewhere that it's not located. Anyway, you know it's made in China. You thought it wasn't located in China.
I remember ordering my first iPhone (v1) online in september '07 (two months after iDay), and it was also shipped from China. That was a rough few days. I was like, "China? really? Surely there are some at the Apple store hubs..."