Consumer Confidential: Verizon iPhone hot, gas prices not, Corning glass on spot

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Here’s your figure-it-out Friday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--How much interest is there in a non-AT&T iPhone? Well, Verizon began taking preorders this week for its iPhone, and had to start turning people away after less than a day. According to Reuters, Verizon ceased iPhone sales Thursday evening after inventory it had set aside for existing customers ran out. Preorders for the Verizon iPhone began at 3 a.m. Thursday and broke the company’s record for a first-day launch in just two hours. Verizon’s launch of the iPhone ends AT&T’s more than three years’ of exclusive U.S. rights to the device. Clearly there’s a bit of, shall we say, pent-up demand for a new service provider.

--Egypt might seem far away, but the impact of uncertainty in the region will hit close to home. The Associated Press reports that gas prices are likely to creep higher as a result of the turmoil. The national average for a gallon of regular gasoline is $3.124, up 2.4 cents in the past week. Analysts expect prices to stay at $3 a gallon or higher — perhaps rising as much as 8 cents over the next two weeks — until the conflict in Egypt is resolved and tensions ease in neighboring countries. Higher energy prices will also drive up distribution costs for most goods, putting an even bigger bite on consumers.

--In a classic example of how the impact of popular products can ripple through the business world, glass maker Corning says it expects annual revenue to grow more than 50% by 2014 as a result of surging demand for ultra-thin glass used in TV monitors, smart phones and touch-screen tablets. According to AP, the company predicts the global appetite for LCD TVs and mobile devices will drive up LCD-glass industry volume to around 5 billion square feet in 2014 from more than 3 billion square feet now. Corning accounts for more than 60% of the LCD glass market. Something to think about when you’re stroking the smooth surface of that new Verizon iPhone.


-- David Lazarus