Apple’s “Secret” eBay Store Returns [Updated]

In fall 2012, a mysterious eBay store appeared that only sold Apple products at prices that undercut Apple’s own online refurbished store. The store was widely speculated to have been run by Apple, despite the company never confirming its involvement. That store disappeared last year, but now one just like it has returned, and this time around, it’s selling “Apple Certified” iPhone 5 devices. Does that mean new iPhones are just around the corner? Probably!

First spotted by AppleInsider, the new eBay store lists a number of iPhone 5 models, ranging from $449 to $499 in price. The devices are available in black and white, in 16 GB, 32 GB, or 64 GB capacities, and are sold factory-unlocked for GSM networks. They also include a one-year Apple Warranty, and are said to be “returned to like-new condition,” “repackaged with manual and charger,” and have received a “final quality inspection by Apple,” according to the website’s text.

You’ll note that Apple’s official refurbished site doesn’t currently list iPhone 5 models for sale – or any iPhone for that matter.

The recently launched store, which goes by the name “FactoryCertified,” could hint at a forthcoming release of new iOS devices, which are typically announced at Apple’s September product launch events. If you recall, when the first Apple eBay store launched, it was selling refurbished iPads at $100 less than Apple’s store, AppleInsider notes. Today, the new store is selling off old iPhone models – and could certainly point to updated iPhone models on the near horizon.

We’ve reached out to both Apple and eBay about this news. eBay declined to comment. Apple has not yet commented, but we’ll update if it does.

At this time, it’s not 100 percent certain that this is a real Apple-run store, though eBay’s refusal to comment could be interpreted as a confirmation of sorts. After all, if this were some random third-party seller or “just a big misunderstanding,” eBay would likely help to correct the earlier reporting, which is now spreading through the Apple blogs like wildfire. That being said, the store could also be run by an authorized Apple reseller.

There was some confusion around how involved Apple really was with the first “official” eBay store, in fact. 9to5Mac claimed at the time that eBay had confirmed the original store was run by Apple. eBay reportedly told them the store was “a low-profile test site that could open to much bigger things.” But the store’s product pages referred to the seller as being “authorized by Apple Inc. to sell Apple Certified Refurbished products on eBay.” This led others to believe 9to5Mac’s reporting was just inaccurate.

However, AppleInsider says they later confirmed the original store was a pilot program run by Apple. That bodes well for this new store being the real deal, too.

This story is developing. 

Update, 7/9/2014: We had reached out to the seller directly before publication, and asked directly if the store was run by Apple, as per reports. This is the response: “No, this listing is not ran by Apple. We are a private re-seller.”

Apple has not commented.