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What is an OEM Company?

OEM is short for original equipment manufacturer. This article explains the role of an OEM company and the OEM Business model.

 

What is an OEM Company? The OEM Business Explained.

OEM Definition: What is OEM?

OEM (pronounced as separate letters) is short for original equipment manufacturer. OEM is somewhat of a misleading term for a company that has a special relationship with computer and IT producers. OEMs are not actually the "original manufacturer" of the equipment, but are actually a company who has a relationship with the original manufacture to resell that manufacturer's product under its own name and branding. While an OEM is similar to a VAR (value-added reseller), it refers specifically to the act of a company rebranding a product to its own name and offering its own warranty, support and licensing of the product.  The term is really a misnomer because OEMs are not the original manufacturers; they are the customizers of the product.

The OEM Business Explained

When a computer technology producer manufacturers its product, for example, a computer graphics card, they will usually make two or more versions of the product. One version is distributed by the manufacturer direct to the consumer retail market, using its own branding and offering its own support.

Other versions of the manufactured product will be distributed through the manufacturer's OEM and authorized reseller distribution channels. Usually OEM products are the same quality as the retail versions, but warranties may be different, the the manual and bundled software may be non-existent, and the cables and connectors required for installation might not be included.

The OEM version of the product is sold, without the retail packaging and extra benefits at a cheaper cost to OEM partners and system integrators. Usually the product is sold in a much larger volume than an individual consumer would purchase. The OEM may purchase OEM product in bulk for mass-production of pre-built systems. This OEM business model is used by systems integrators (SI), an individual or company that specializes in building complete computer systems by putting together components from different vendors. In most cases, the SI provides the warranty on the OEM product when sold to a customer.

Other OEM business models include value-added services. This is where the OEM business would add its own software and services to customize the OEM product for its customers. This type of OEM business is referred to as VAR, short for value-added reseller. Typically the VAR would load applications or proprietary software onto systems (or bundle the software with the OEM hardware). This "value-added" system is often customized for a specific application for specific clients.

Recommended Reading: What Are IT Channel Partners and Channel Programs?

A Glossary of OEM Technology Terms

Recommended Reading: See Webopedia's IT Channel Partners category of terms.

Related OEM Business Technology Articles

The following articles, courtesy of internetnews.com publications provide examples of different types of OEM relationships and partner programs.

  • The Hidden Costs of the Gray Market: What end-users do not see are the hidden high costs of lower quality service and support, loss of OEM warranty, potential legal exposure due to use of unauthorized or pirated software and invalid software licenses, lack or absence of post-sales service, especially from online brokers, and potential business interruptions and loss of vital business and personal data.
  • Dell Expands EMC Alliance With New Products: Dell expanded its OEM relationship with long-time partner EMC (NYSE: EMC) and unveiled a new object-based storage system.
  • AMD Inks Deal to Add RAID Security to Chips: AMD is adding RAID data protection to its server chips, thanks to an OEM deal with Dot Hill.
  • Microsoft Previews Windows Embedded Compact: Microsoft announced the CTP during a keynote speech by Steve Guggenheimer, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Division at the giant technology conference Computex being held in Taiwan.
  • lacritech, Storage Computer Form OEM Partnership: Alacritech, a provider of network accelerator solutions for servers and storage systems has signed and OEM agreement with Storage Computer Corporation.

 




Based in Nova Scotia, Canada, Vangie Beal has been covering small business, electronic commerce and Internet technology for more than a decade. You can tweet with her online @AuroraGG.





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