In early 2009, I purchased a 2008 17 inch MacBook at one third less than list price, from an online discount eTailer. This discount e-tailer (sometimes sarcastically referred to as "less than honest Abe's") gave me a strong pitch to purchase an extended repair contract from a camera repair service. Instead, I purchased AppleCare at a discount, separately, from Amazon.com. Registration of Apple Care was easy, online, using the serial number in the box, shipped from Amazon.
Local Apple users' groups told me that I was asking for trouble. In their opinions, Apple disapproves of online e-tailers selling anything Apple, at a discount. In their opinions, Apple hardware sold at any price less than list price is somehow "grey-market" and it will be difficult to get Apple to repair grey-market hardware.
However, this worked out for me. That 2008 MacBook started to run hot as a stove, literally. Although it ran without any hangs or crashes, it was hot enough to make typing uncomfortable on my wrists. About 20 months after I bought it, one of the cooling fans started to whine like a siren.
Apple telephone support told me to take the computer to an Apple Store, which happened to be close to me. I did not need to ship my computer. When I visited the Apple Store, they treated my computer as if I had bought it from Apple.com. The repair was at no cost to me, and completed in two days. My MacBook now runs cool, literally! Whatever was wrong with the cooling system, the "Mac Geniuses" fixed it, permanently.
My conclusion, based on this single experience: It is possible to purchase Apple computers, at significant discounts. But I recommend getting the extended Apple Care warranty. First, if you live near an Apple Store, you can get fairly quick repairs, in my experience. Second, you get Apple telephone support. That is not included in with repair contracts from a camera repair service, as far as I can tell.
Of course, if the price of Apple Care rises, you might consider "self insurance", that is, doing without the extended warranty, and paying for repairs or replacement, out of your own pocket. In my case, I probably broke even.