Original equipment manufacturer
An original equipment manufacturer, or OEM, manufactures products or components that are purchased by another company and retailed under that purchasing company's brand name. OEM refers to the company that originally manufactured the product. When referring to automotive parts, OEM designates a replacement part made by the manufacturer of the original part.
Confusing and contradictory definitions
Counter-intuitively, the term OEM may refer to a company that purchases for use in its own products a component made by a second company. Under this definition, if Apple purchases optical drives from Toshiba to put in its computers, Apple is the OEM, and Toshiba would classify the transaction as an "OEM sale".
- Contradictory usage
- Alternatives to contradictory or confusing use
Instead of OEM, companies may label themselves resellers.
Companies who buy parts and then resell those parts with some amount of additional value added along the way (such as assembly, customer support, or continued maintenance) may be better termed value-added resellers (VARs) or resellers.
When referring to automotive parts, OEM designates a replacement part made by the manufacturer of the original part. As most cars are originally assembled with parts made by companies other than the one whose badge appears on the vehicle, it may happen that a car company sells OEM spare parts without claiming to have manufactured the part itself.
An automobile part may carry the designation OEM if it is made by the same manufacturer and is the original part used when building and selling the product. The term aftermarket is often used for non-OEM spare parts.
In purchasing parts at national, discount auto parts retailers (e.g., NAPA, Auto Zone, Advance Auto Parts, Pep Boys, etc.), many parts will have OEM prominently displayed but followed by a qualifier such as "meets OEM standards". Such auto parts are not OEM; they are simply claiming to have been manufactured to the same specifications as the OEM parts—specifications that may well be unpublished and unknowable.
Economies of scale
OEMs rely on their ability to drive down the cost of production through economies of scale. Also, using an OEM allows the purchasing company to obtain needed components or products without owning and operating a factory.
Origin of term
While the term was used in the early 1960s and 70s in the US to refer to value-added resellers, OEM is currently defined by IBM to refer to "a manufacturer of equipment that may be marketed by another manufacturer". It may derive from a Dutch phrase, "onder eigen merk", which means "under own brand".
- Contract manufacturer
- Golden sample
- Original design manufacturer
- Private label
- Value-added reseller
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- Tracy Kidder ((C)1997). "The Soul of a New Machine - CHAPTER ONE- How to Make a Lot of Money- 16th paragraph". Random House Inc. ISBN 0-679-60261-5. Archived from the original on 2008-08-08. Retrieved 2008-08-08. "companies known as original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs"
- Moving On The Economist, Jan 13th 2005
- Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) and Aftermarket Parts thepartsbin.com
- *OEM Definition helpwithpcs.com
- OEM Definition answers.com
- OEM webopedia.com
- Ken Olsen: PDP-1 and PDP-8 (page 3), economicadventure.com
- Dictionary of IBM and computing IBM site
- gte.net - Frequently asked questions about hardware