What's up with Apple's down low on eBay sales?

Apple's eBay store is something of a mystery. Cheaper prices (mostly) on its refurbished hardware. Is there a story here? Inquiring minds want to know.
Written by Ken Hess, Contributor

Early this morning before I could even clear the crust out of my eyes, someone sent me an email with a link in it describing a "secret" Apple eBay store with lower prices than are available on their own site. What's up with that? Lindsay Sakraida, DealNews.com features director, sprung this little prize on the world: Some items sell at up to $100 less on this mysterious Apple eBay store.

The big question is, "Why?"

The bigger question is, "Do I really care?"

To answer the first question, I think it is, as the article suggests, an experiment. Again, why would Apple experiment with eBay? For one, Apple could just buy eBay and do whatever it wants. Second, Apple could sell igloos to Africans. OK, maybe it could sell igloos to Americans in Africa, but I think you get the point. Apple is one of those companies that apparently doesn't have to lower its prices to compete with the rest of the market.

While in Las Vegas last week, I went to the Apple Store located conveniently in the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace where I stayed. The MacBook Air I want is $1,199. The comparable MacBook Pro is $1,499. For the number of extras I would get with the Pro, it's worth $300.

But $1,499 for a laptop? Seriously? Even the comparably priced Alienware M17X, at $1,499, seems way too expensive for me. But see, that's the thing with Apple's stuff. I would never, ever, in a million years consider buying a PC laptop for $1,499 — not even the M17X. But I'd totally go plop it down for the MacBook Pro.

And I have to ask myself, "Why?"

Yeah, I know, we're back to question one. Why, indeed.

I'm afraid I can't answer that. Not honestly, at least. I want a MacBook Air/Pro so bad and I don't know why. I just do. I need help. The first step, I'm told, is to admit that there's a higher power. I admit it. Apple is that higher power.

Would I buy a refurbished model for $1,199 or $999? No way. If I'm going to buy Apple, I want it new with that new computer smell. I'm digressing, aren't I?

OK, so back to the story. Why is Apple doing this? And do I really care?

I think it's just looking to dump its hardware inventory and someone came up with the idea that eBay is a good way to do that.

The answer to the second question is easy. No, I really don't care. OK, maybe I care a little or I wouldn't write this post.

Do I think it's scandalous? No. Do I think it's interesting? Yes. It is interesting that they're doing it. But I mean, couldn't they just discount their refurbished stuff on their own site and have the same effect?

Perhaps it's playing on the weak minds of potential customers who think they're scamming Apple by paying $100 less for a piece of hardware.

I, personally, wouldn't buy anything refurbished from Apple or from its eBay store. I've seen refurbished stuff. So called "blemishes" and "normal wear" can mean scarred screens and body cracks. No thanks. I'll put my own blemishes on my hardware. I don't want to pay $999 for something refurbished when I can purchase new for just a bit more or can double my down (Vegas-speak, you know) and buy PC hardware. Meaning that I can get twice the value in PC hardware for the same money.

So, now that the word is officially out on Apple's eBay store, do you think it'll pull it back or keep it going? Maybe only the people at DealNews will know for sure. I hope to stay on top of this because I'm curious to see what's up with it and what Apple has in mind for its eBay store.

Tell me what you think about Apple's eBay store. Do you think it's an attempt to trick its customers, just an experiment or something else?

[Author's note: The purpose of this article was to see if there was some explanation for the cheaper prices on eBay vs. the Apple store. As for refurbished hardware, I can only speak of the refurbs I've seen in person with my own eyes. If your mileage is better than mine, then great, I'm happy for you. I am sorry that I can't unsee what I saw and now change my mind about it. Anyway, I also know that people reported months ago that Apple had an eBay store — also not my point — this one was simply to discover why it sells refurb goods at a lower price on eBay than on its main site.]

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