Other World Computing is celebrating an important milestone. 25 years ago, OWC Founder, Larry O’Connor, pivoted his first business venture of re-inking printer ribbons to a new business trajectory that focused on “Making Each Mac a Better, Faster Mac.” OWC’s first Macintosh upgrade product, beyond hard drives and memory, was a processor clock upgrade, the OWC Rocket, that cost less than $50. Today, the OWC product catalog includes several thousand upgrade and enhancement products, the majority geared toward helping people get more performance and longevity from their Macs.
Since its inception, four years after the launch of the original Macintosh 128K, OWC has grown from the classic garage business to an operation that occupies more than 50,000 square feet of office and manufacturing space across five locations in Illinois, Nevada and Texas. Today, OWC employs more than 160 team members and continues to build its reputation as a developer and manufacturer of high-performance hardware that complements the high standards of fit and finish that characterize Apple products.
Over the course of 25 years, OWC has shipped orders to the millions of customers who turn to its products to extract the best performance from their Macs. In the most recent fiscal year, the company directly fulfilled over 480,000 orders, continuing a history of annual double-digit percentage growth.
“We consider ourselves the industry’s top innovator of products that enable people to get more from their Macs and extend the useful life of their Apple investment,” said Larry O’Connor, CEO and founder of OWC. “It’s easy to forget all that we’ve done over these 25 years, but today we’re taking a brief pause to recognize what we’ve accomplished. We have a great culture and history at OWC, and I look forward to us continuing to make history as our creativity and innovation flourishes.”
Back in the 90s, OWC was the first to offer an online compatibility guide that made selecting upgrades including memory, hard drives, and processor upgrades as simple as selecting your computer model. But it is the impressive list of hardware innovations, like these, of which the company is most proud:
- First bus-powered hard drives offering more than 250MB capacity
- First multi-interface FireWire- and USB bus-powered pocket drives
- First 7200RPM bus-powered pocket drives
- First to offer external DVD optical drives for Mac with video playback capability
- First affordable, user-friendly, high-performance multi-drive RAID arrays
- First volume external drive producer to offer a three-year warranty, forcing competitors to follow suit
- First to offer comprehensive upgrade program for Apple iMacs in 2010 and 2011, including the addition of SATA 6Gb/s and 3Gb/s external ports (eSATA)
- First after-market SSD line designed and built for Apple, and the first and only SSD upgrades for the Apple MacBook Air and Apple MacBook Pro with Retina display
- First and only fully bootable, Mac-supported internal PCIe SSD solution
- First to develop and support the highest possible memory upgrades for Apple Mac computers over the years via the OWC MaxRAM R&D Lab, including support for up to 4X original Apple factory RAM limits
- First aftermarket brand to have available the correct, qualified memory products for Apple Macs for the past 7+ years, a result of the most extensive Mac testing lab outside of Apple
- First affordable, high-volume, G3 and G4 ZIF Processor upgrades
- First and only 7448 processor upgrades
- The very first case, the Pod Protector, for the original Apple iPod
- First comprehensive line of battery replacements for Apple laptops and iPod
Looking ahead — innovating outside the box
Industry observers have noted that Apple is gradually but consistently closing off even the most basic upgradeability that used to be possible for its products. In response, O’Connor says OWC is looking for ways to bring innovation and performance upgrades to Apple products in different ways. “With Macs no longer having PCIe slots for expansion on the inside, it’s about what you can connect via Thunderbolt on the outside. We’re already offering a handful of products in this area and that’s about to explode. We’ve always thought outside the box, so it’s fitting that we’ll now be focused on developing external solutions to extract the most power and flexibility from our customers’ Macs.”
A culture of excellence that extends to OWC’s business partners
OWC customers have been-and always will be-the key drivers for the company’s success and OWC is committed to constantly evolving by improving its processes for handling customer needs and investing in its people. O’Connor is convinced that OWC’s future success rests largely on its ability to stand out through excellent American attention to customer service: “We are proud of the culture of excellence we have created, where everyone is committed to ‘customer first’ service. This team has grown and evolved every year in both head count and experience. It is this US-based team, where everyone is a part of the customer service effort that makes the OWC difference. It’s this commitment to excellence that has resulted in a loyal following of millions of customers and hundreds of thousands of orders a year. We would also like to recognize the increasing number of reseller and distribution partners from around the world that have chosen to partner with us. They are an important and appreciated part of the expanding the OWC universe.”
What people say about OWC
“I’ve bought nearly 100 items from OWC over the years, and haven’t had a complaint yet. I wish all Internet retailers were as good.” — Seth A., Chicago, IL
“Extraordinary customer service. From the moment I asked for help, your staff has been right on the mark. I am a very happy customer, and will be for life.” — Scott V., Beulah, MI
“My RAM upgrade kit arrived four days early—what were you thinking having my items show up early! I installed it myself after watching your video—me, who believes God invented mechanics so I wouldn’t have to do that kind of stuff. Holy Cow, it screams, it runs so fast—no more spinning beach balls! Seriously, you guys are the greatest and the only company I would deal with for my Mac. Thank you very much!” — Michael H., Eden Prairie, MN
“In the 12 years I’ve been dealing with Other World Computing, they have been like an old friend: never a problem, always helpful and prompt. A 5-Star rating without a doubt.” — Darryl W., Council Bluffs, IA
“When 90 percent of companies today are out for a fast buck and offer zero customer service, you guys are leaps and bounds above the norm. I don’t consider myself a computer geek, but you guys make upgrading a dream.” — Mical Caterina , FOH Magazine
“As a Mac User since 1984, I have used most Mac models that were ever made. In the past 20 years, most of my system upgrades and expansions have come from OWC. You always had what I needed, affordably and guaranteed to work with Macs. Your online resources are terrific and your customer support outstanding. What a great ‘Out of this World Company’.” — Walter H., Frederick, MD
Industry recognition for OWC
OWC has attained numerous industry awards and recognition, including: Crain’s Chicago Business 2009 and 2011-2012 “Fast Fifty” List of the Fastest Growing Companies in the Chicago Area; Inc. 5,000 “Fastest-Growing Privately Owned Companies in America” list honoree 2007-2013; Reseller Ratings Elite Member 2009-2012; Better Business Bureau Top Rating of A+ 2010-2012; About.com 2012-2013 Readers’ Choice Award for best Mac Peripheral Reseller; Computerworld Magazine Top Green-IT Companies; and McHenry County Economic Development Corporation 2008 & 2011 Business Champion Award.