What Is Original Equipment Manufacturer(OEM)?

What's the difference between OEM and aftermarket accessories?

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what is Original equipment manufacturer
Image: Grid Studio

You might’ve come across the words ‘original equipment manufacturer’ or OEM several times. This word is present across industries because it is a universal term. As the name suggests, OEM or original equipment manufacturer means someone who manufactures parts of a product.

An OEM deals with retailers who take the OEM’s products, add value to them and sell it as a finished product. For example, Qualcomm is the OEM for Snapdragon chips. Qualcomm manufactures and sells these chips to various smartphone makers that put them in their phones and sell them to the users.

Differences between OEM & VAR

An OEM is different from a VAR, but there are certain overlaps at times. An original equipment manufacturer makes a product that can be used either directly by the consumers or by other companies. When a company purchases a product from an OEM, it can either sell it ahead or add value and become a VAR or value-added reseller.

For instance, when Samsung buys Qualcomm chips for its phones, it becomes Qualcomm’s value-added reseller. But Samsung also manufactures other components like displays, RAM, and storage, which means Samsung is also an OEM. This is an example of how a VAR can also be an OEM.

So the difference between OEM and VAR is that an OEM makes a product(s) and sells or licenses it to the VAR. VAR packages it, adds its branding to the product, and sells it to the end-user.

OEM vs Aftermarket

Aftermarket parts are OEM part replacements that you can fix and sometimes upgrade to the final product. While they may violate the product’s warranty, several people use aftermarket accessories and components for cheaper third-party replacements.

Aftermarket components have been popular among DIY repair and ‘Right To Repair‘ enthusiasts.

For instance, if you have an HP laptop and wish to upgrade the SSD. You can either buy an HP-branded SSD or go with a cheaper one. While you may experience a difference in reading/write speeds, an SSD will eventually do the same job as the HP original. That’s practically everything you need to know about OEMs, VARs, and aftermarket components.

If you like this simple explainer, check out our Short Bytes section. We take complex tech topics and break them into short, easy-to-understand articles.

Manik Berry

Manik Berry

With a Master’s degree in journalism, Manik writes about big tech and has a keen eye for political-tech news. In his free time, he’s browsing the Kindle store for new stuff read. Manik also adores his motorcycle and is looking for new routes on weekends. He likes tea and cat memes. You can reach him at [email protected]