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Phone envy.

For four months, gadget geeks in Germany and the United Kingdom have been green with it, thanks to the introduction of the iPhone in the U.S.

But now the device’s European debut is just hours away.

“A lot of people are coming in and asking about it,” said Michael White, a sales consultant at the Carphone Warehouse at Lion Yard in Cambridge, England.

That store has 300 iPhones on hand for Friday’s launch, and it’s staying open four hours late just to handle sales of the gadget and its accessories, White said.

At 269 pounds (about $565) in the U.K. and 399 euros (roughly $575) in Germany, the 8-gigabyte iPhone is even more than the mobile phone, widescreen iPod and “breakthrough Internet device” the press releases claim: It’s also a money-sucking wallet vampire.

The minimum contract for the iPhone is 18 months through O2 in the U.K., and 24 months with T-Mobile in Germany, according to the companies.

Monthly service plans begin at 49 euro in Germany and 35 pounds in the U.K. In Germany, the basic service gives just 100 minutes of talk time and 40 SMS text messages a month. On the upside, it provides unlimited anytime, anywhere mobile data usage.

In the U.K., the basic service comes with a more generous 200 minutes of talk time and 200 SMS text messages a month, along with the unlimited anytime, anywhere mobile data usage.

Despite the cost, the few authorized sellers in Germany and the U.K. are ramping up the hype for Friday’s introduction.

O2, the phone’s exclusive service provider in the U.K., has dictated that sales of the phone start at 6:02 p.m. across the land — the timing is an ode to the company itself — in the hopes of creating a stampede. The phones will be available to buy at Carphone Warehouse, Apple and O2 retail and online stores in the U.K.

In Germany, where T-Mobile is the exclusive service provider, it will go on sale just after midnight Friday morning at the Telekom megastore in Cologne. Other Telekom retail stores and the company’s Web site will open for sales later in the day.

“I don’t expect it [will be] like in America, where people slept outside,” said Kevin Wiredu, a salesperson at one of the handful of T-Punkt stores in Stuttgart.

Because Apple wised up to “entrepreneurs” who bought sloughs of the devices with the hopes of reselling them at a profit in the U.S., Apple now limits sales to two phones per customer, and buyers have to pay with a credit or debit card.

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