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What Is Original Equipment Manufacturing (OEM)?

The term “Original Equipment Manufacturer,” or OEM, often surfaces in discussions surrounding technology, automobiles, and various other industries where manufacturing plays a pivotal role. But what does this term actually mean? This article explores the essence of OEM, distinguishing its hardware and software implications and unraveling how it stands apart from Original Design Manufacturing (ODM).

What is original equipment manufacturing?

Original equipment manufacturing signifies a practice where companies produce components or products that are then acquired and retailed under another company’s brand. These entities craft parts that are essential to the final product but avoid the limelight and recognition often given to the brand under which the end product is sold.

OEM hardware vs OEM software: A comparative analysis

When discussing OEM within the realm of hardware, one refers to the creation of physical components used in the end consumer products. For instance, if a company manufactures batteries that are utilized in smartphones branded by another enterprise, these batteries are representative of OEM hardware. Such partnerships are commonplace in the manufacturing sector, promoting efficiency and specialization.

Conversely, OEM software is pre-installed software that comes bundled with hardware, often tailored to the specifications required by the hardware manufacturer. This might include operating systems, system tools, or application software specifically designed to run optimally on the pre-assembled device. The cost of this software is typically incorporated into the overall price of the hardware.

Differences between OEM and ODM

While OEMs are manufacturers that design products as per another company’s specifications, Original Design Manufacturers (ODM) go a step further by providing both the design and production services. ODMs thereby allow brands to outsource not just manufacturing but also the research and development process of their products. In contrast, brands collaborating with OEMs retain control over the design and specification of the product, limiting the OEM’s role to production.


Original equipment manufacturers are the silent yet robust pillars supporting numerous brands with quality components and tailored software. The differentiation between OEM hardware and software, as well as the distinction from ODM, is crucial to understand for businesses, consumers, and anyone who uses technology with OEM parts. 

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