updated 7/9/2008 2:07:42 PM ET 2008-07-09T18:07:42

Belgians finally get the chance to buy one of Apple Inc.'s coveted iPhones on Friday — at the highest prices in the world.

The 8-gigabyte iPhone will retail for 525 euros ($825) — more than four times the U.S. price of $199. The 16-gigabyte version costs 615 euros ($966). The same phone would cost $299 in the U.S.

Belgian Enterprise Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne blamed a local law that forbids companies subsidizing one product by charging more for something else.

He said he will try to scrap this rule in September because it stops phone operators from selling handsets inexpensively along with fixed service contracts, as is common elsewhere. For instance, Dutch customers over the border can pay just 1 euro ($1.57) for an iPhone if they pick a contract with operator T-Mobile.

The Belgian iPhone carrier, Mobistar, claims it isn't worried that high prices will deter customers. It is expecting lines at stores in Brussels when the phones go on sale Friday.

For the first few weeks, shoppers won't be allowed to buy more than one iPhone each — even if they could afford it.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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