What Does OEM Mean?

In most general terms OEM refers to “original equipment manufacturer”. If you have shopped online for computer parts lately, you might have stumbled upon this acronym, OEM. Usually, the term is tagged with the hardware or software that is less expensive than regular retail products.

Is it Legal to Buy OEM Products?

As far as electronics manufacturing is concerned, OEM hardware or software is intended for distribution to companies who manufacture full-set retail units of an electronic commodity. OEMs are generally not meant to hit the retail stores; this is the reason they are usually packaged in white boxes or brown boxes. Most of the physical retail stores never trade OEM products. As regarding online stores, they know that the customers are hunting for the cheapest bargains, so they are more than happy to stock these OEM products. Thus, you can say OEM refers to original quality at minimum price. As regarding the legal aspect, it is fully legal to buy an OEM product; however there are certain stipulations or restrictions you may have to adhere.

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Explained

Almost all the PC component and software manufacturing firms make two versions of the same product. This is due to the difference in their distribution channels, one being retail and the other being OEM.

The retail channel uses lucrative boxes with colors and graphics and installation manuals, warranty card, software CDs etc. The cost of all these extras is ultimately passed on to you, the customer.

The OEM channel generally distributes the electronic components to the ‘integrators’ or ‘system builders’. Thus, you can say that a top brand electronic gadget is made by two types of components – the components that are actually made by the retailing company and the components supplied to them as OEM.

Is Buying an OEM Worth It?

The OEM products are made by original equipment manufacturers; thus, they possess the same quality as that of their retail counterparts. However, they may differ in the manufacturer warranty that may be reduced or nonexistent. Also, various types of manuals and drivers may not be included. But you can easily download them from the internet. Thus, it is wise to check online for all the support features, manuals and drivers before buying an OEM. The main alluring feature of an OEM product is the huge difference in price, which may sometimes be as high as 50 to 60% or even more. For example, the OEM version for Windows 7 Home Premium comes at $99, whilst the retail version costs $179.99. This is a huge difference, and it is also true for most of the antivirus software, wherein you can easily find 25 to 50% discount on OEMs. Buying OEM hardware can be a hit-or-miss situation. You can save considerably on OEM hardware, but if you have to buy some extra support, it can make up for the discount.

Buying an OEM can turn out to be a decision well-taken, because you save plenty of money through this route. However, you should be cautious, because there is a possibility of running into trouble at a later stage if you don’t know much of the intricacies of electronics manufacturing and their working. But, it is also true that you are getting the product at a huge discounted price for the risk.


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