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Here’s an interesting find sent by a tipster. Staples, the biggest office retailer in the United States, has a page showing an Apple TV with a list price of $49.99. While that price is very low, we were not able to add it to our cart or check out because the following page said “out of stock” (screenshots below). Staples also recommended a $24.99 Apple Lightning charge and sync cable when you visit the page. In fact, there is a bunch of Apple’s products sitting on “Mockup Pages” section.

What’s going on here?

You’ll notice that the title of the product indicates “test” for both Apple TV and the Lightning cable. In fact, there is a whole set of Apple products in the mockup lineup (right). It appears that Staples has put in a bunch of mockup product pages.

Staples has had an Apple Accessories section for a while, but it has never contained Apple products. Products like Logitech Mac keyboards and iPad cases from Belkin are sold here.

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So, why the new mockups? Perhaps there was an erroneous auto-import of inventory from a stock supplier? Or, maybe Staples is trying to slyly get incoming keyword traffic via product search engine optimization?

The case we like to believe is that Staples is gearing up to sell a limited number of Apple products, including: Apple TV, Earpods, adapters, keyboards, and Smart Cases.

In 2011, Staples CEO Ron Sargent noted that Staples wanted to sell Apple products in the U.S. but had a hard time getting the products from Apple.

Ron Sargent, Staples chairman and chief executive, also lamented that its nearly 1,600 U.S. stores can’t sell Apple Inc.’s popular products because Apple won’t sell them to Staples. Apple products are sold at Staples stores in Canada and elsewhere internationally, where Apple has the need for Staples’ distribution channel, and the executive expressed hope its U.S. stores would one day sell the iPad and other Apple wares.

Even if Staples is only doing a limited run of Apple accessories and cables, the added exposure could help Apple’s bottom line considerably. Staples has a huge amount of corporate customers who would now be able to order Apple products with the corporate line of credit along with reams of paper and other office supplies.

“We’re going to need 100 reams of paper, a thousand pens and 10 Apple TVs this week.”

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