The store front, discovered by AppleInsider over the weekend (1, 2, 3 -- thanks, Max), is dubbed the "Factory Outlet eBay Store" and currently lists about half dozen factory restored and unlocked GSM iPhone 5 models for between $449 and $499.
Although there's no direct language on the eBay storefront to suggest Apple's involvement, it displays many of the hallmarks of the iPhone maker's earlier partnership with eBay to sell refurbished iPads. In particular, the "Apple Certified" iPhone 5s currently on sale are billed as being "exclusive" to the eBay Factory store, they each come with a full one-year Apple Warranty, and they each have been completely restored, burn-in tested and professionally repackaged with a "final quality inspection performed by Apple."
Current Factory Outlet eBay Store Listings:
64GB White iPhone 5 (Factory Unlocked for GSM) for $499 $350 off MSRP
64GB Black iPhone 5 (Factory Unlocked for GSM) for $499 $350 off MSRP
32GB White iPhone 5 (Factory Unlocked for GSM) for $479 $270 off MSRP
32GB Black iPhone 5 (Factory Unlocked for GSM) for $479 $270 off MSRP
16GB White iPhone 5 (Factory Unlocked for GSM) for $449 $200 off MSRP
16GB Black iPhone 5 (Factory Unlocked for GSM) for $449 $200 off MSRP
The move is likely an effort on Apple's part to diversify its inventory distribution of existing devices in the months leading up to this Septembers annual iOS device product launches. Apple made a similar move back in March of last year when it launched a Apple Certified Refurbished Products Store that sold refurbished iPads at $100 less than on Apple's own online store.
All traces of that original storefront ultimately disappeared from eBay before the 2013 iPad launches. AppleInsider later learned that the effort was part of a 3-month pilot program that Apple chose not to renew. Thus far, this year's store has only listed Apple Certified refurbished iPhone 5 models. AppleInsider will be tracking the store's listings in its Price Guides (under the Certified Refurb & Closeouts tab) and on its Deals site.