Andrew Murphy

How to get on Steve Jobs' naughty list

November 19, 2010: 1:45 PM ET

If T.J. Maxx had dreams of becoming an Apple reseller, it can forget them now

Source: Engadget

Few companies keep as tight reins on their retail partners -- and on the suggested retail prices of their products -- as Apple (AAPL).

Which is why Engadget's discovery Thursday that the discount chain T.J. Maxx (TJX) was selling $499 iPads for $399.99 -- or $350 plus tax if you sign up for a T.J. Maxx credit card on the spot and apply for all the rebates -- created such a stir.

Apple's internal pricing is a tightly guarded secret, but it's believed that its discounts to resellers are in the 5% to 10% range. In other words, even BestBuy (BBY) is paying Apple between $450 and $475 for every entry-level iPad.

So what's going on? Is Apple offloading excess inventory, as some have suggested? Clearing shelves for a new iPad? Discontinuing the Wi-Fi-only model? Slashing prices to kill the competition?

None of the above, if the e-mail below, attributed to Steve Jobs, can be taken at face value.

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