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What does OEM Mean?

Posted on by Kurz Industrial Solutions

If nothing else, you may be familiar with the term “OEM” from replacing parts on your car. But what does the term mean, and what’s the advantage of using them? The term “OEM” is short for “original equipment manufacturer.” It refers to warrantied products that are made based on an original blueprint directly by the manufacturer rather than a third-party supplier. Essentially, OEM products are longer-lasting and usually made to fit a specific device. In the field of electronics, the alternative is called retail parts.


Understanding OEM Components

Despite the way it sounds, the acronym “OEM” is not a product name or the name of a specific manufacturer. Instead, it refers to the end audience that the product will be sold to. In the technology sector, original equipment software and hardware products are distributed to companies that build computer systems and sell their final products to consumers, such as Apple and Dell. The companies that sell end products to consumers are called original equipment manufacturers. They provide product warranties for their consumers and have replacement parts available if and when needed. When you purchase original products, they arrive wrapped in paper or a box, as they are not intended for sale in retail stores. If you are purchasing replacement parts for an electronic device or any other consumer good, be sure to ask the seller whether or not it is an original equipment component. Most retail stores and online shops do not sell original parts. Instead, you normally have to order them directly from the manufacturer.


OEM vs Alternative Parts

Unlike OEM components, the sale and distribution of alternative parts is not regulated. In the field of electronics, alternative components are called “retail.” In the automotive industry, they are called “aftermarket.” The concept of both is the same. In the electronics industry, original equipment and retail products may have the same performance capacity and capabilities as the original equipment manufacturer components. Most optical drives, hard drives, and PCI expansion cards are sold by the original manufacturer, although some retail counterparts are distributed for sale, too.


Even though an OEM and retail product might look the same at first, there are some key differences to be aware of. First, original equipment products may not be sold as a complete package. A manufacturer-produced computer processor, for example, may not be shipped with fans, which are required for use. A manufacturer-generated hard drive may not come with the associated adapters or cables, which are also necessary for using the device. If you’re planning to purchase OEM software, be aware that it is typically sold with just one license. That means you can’t share the software among different devices. In the automotive world, non-original equipment manufacturer parts are called “aftermarket.” They are also produced by the original manufacturer. However, they are designed with a generic fit rather than tailored to a specific make and model. Unlike OEM products, aftermarket parts may not come with a warranty.


Should you buy OEM Products?

For many consumers, the appeal of OEM products is that they are typically less expensive than their counterparts. In some cases, you can save up to 50%! The amount of money that you save varies depending on the product and manufacturer. Buying an original equipment manufacturer product is legal and safe. However, keep in mind that in the realm of electronics, you might have limited support when purchasing this type of product.


When you’re looking to replace parts for your consumer products, getting original equipment versions can certainly be the way to go. However, there are some key differences between these parts and retail components, too. Keep in mind that in addition to saving money on original equipment manufacturer parts, you can also save money by building your own computer using original equipment components.

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