Many big companies that make electronics do not physically make the products, only design them. Apple sources its parts from companies like Foxconn or and Pegatron. Apple designs a phone and creates the specifications for it. That design is then sent to other companies to create the various components and put everything together. Companies like Apple do this due to the high costs of highly specialized skills needed to create the devices, facilities, and raw materials. This allows them to streamline the process and leverage the companies’ supply chain that produces the devices (Foxconn makes other electronics).

Original Design Manufacturer

Other manufacturers will make their products and sell them at wholesale prices to other companies that will brand them and market them as their own. This is common with computer power supplies. This is not only a practice in the electronics market; most companies will produce the ‘generic products’ that you will find in most retail establishments, from food to health products.

What’s the Difference?

OEM is often used when referring to prebuilt manufactures like Apple, Dell, HP, ASUS, and many more. This is why you can get a retail version of Windows 10 Pro for $199 or an OEM version for $149. There is no difference in the software, but the retail version comes with Microsoft’s support, whereas the OEM version does not. The OEM copy is designed for companies who build and then market their computers.

How does this apply to the tech world?

When it comes to repairing, especially with cell phones, several different screens are on the market. An authorized manufacturer sells OEM screens. 3rd party companies build aftermarket screens and are a copy of the original screen. This can lead to varying degrees of quality. This can be common with Apple screen repairs. Apple does not allow OEM replacement parts to be sold, so if you break your screen and don’t go to an Apple store or Apple Authorized repair dealer, you will not get genuine replacement parts. That is not to say all aftermarket parts are bad, but there are varying degrees in quality. Most companies will offer a warranty for their repairs, and those who don’t might be using cheaper aftermarket parts.

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