One reason for the decline may be the increasing prevalence of tablets and smartphones fulfilling the demand for portable entertainment.
“Most people have tablets, even their kids have tablets, and smartphones and things like that,” said Alicia Driggers, sales manager of Alea Leather.
In 2013, Pew Research Center released a study that put 34 percent of American adults as tablet owners. That was nearly double the percentage found in 2012 by a similar study issued by Pew.
But a contributing factor to the unpopularity of overhead DVD systems may be one of Alea’s own products: headrest DVD players. Although they are more expensive, headrest players fared better than their overhead ancestors, according to Alea.
Alea debuted headrest DVD players in 2012, and the product seems to have gained greater versatility than the overhead players. The company designed headrest DVD players with touchscreens in order to better appeal to current electronics trends.
“With overhead DVD you can only watch one movie…so people all have to watch the same thing,” Driggers said. “If you have headrest DVDs, people can watch two separate things and listen through their earphones. That way you don’t have a teenager having to watch Frozen for the 50th time. They can actually watch their own movie.”
Another issue contributing to the demise of the overhead DVD player, according to Driggers, is the permanence of the installation (unless the entire headliner is replaced). Headrest players are transferrable for people trading out cars. However, she noted the headrest players have recently seen a small decrease in sales as well.
According to the company, Alea will sell the last of its 2012 overhead DVD players and then be done with overheads for good. Rather than obsess over an escalating tech race, the company plans to focus on growing its core business of leather interiors and seat heaters.