San Antonio — The Progressive Retailers Organization was at the Westin La Cantera Hill Coun
Headrest monitors are growing at a rate of close to 25 percent, outpacing general mobile video sales that are currently down by single digits, suppliers said.
Headrest monitors are still a relatively small niche, but sales are expected to continue to gain as prices for the systems decline.
Rosen Entertainment estimates all-in-one type headrest monitor/DVD systems will account for $90 million to $100 million in wholesale shipments to car dealers, expediters and 12-volt retailers this year, according to Steve Weimar, VP sales and marketing.
Audiovox sees headrest systems gaining broader appeal when the price for a pair of headrest monitors each with its own built-in DVD player falls below $1,000, according to Tom Malone, senior VP for the mobile electronics group. Current prices are $1,299 to $1,499, he said.
Rosen expects industry-wide sales this year will increase by 20 to 25 percent while Audiovox expects its sales to grow by 25 percent for 2006.
At the Specialty Equipment Manufacturer's Association. (SEMA) show in Las Vegas, Vizualogic is debuting one of the first DVD/monitor headrest systems to work with new 2006-2007 Mercedes-Benz vehicles. These vehicles pose a special challenge because they come with “active” headrests that automatically thrust forward to protect the neck in a rear-end collision.
Rather than replacing the headrests with a custom version, Vizualogic's new A-1250 top-loading DVD/monitors attach to the legs of the existing headrests in Mercedes M-, R- and GL-class vehicles. They offer adjustable 7-inch LCD screens and front-panel auxiliary input jacks for connecting to an iPod or video game machine. The A-1250 matches the factory color, grain and stitch of the Mercedes' interior. It comes with headphones, game controller and FM modulator at a $1,799 suggested retail price.
Other luxury car makers are expected to adopt such active headrest systems in the future.
At the opposite end of the pricing spectrum, Audiovox is introducing at SEMA a new line of promotional headrests and overhead monitors. The company says it is aiming the new monitors at younger adults who are less concerned with matching the grain and stitching in the car and who would prefer that the DVD player come separate from the headrest so it can be controlled from the front seat.
Audiovox's Malone noted, “We have a larger share of the premium overheads and headrests, but there's still a multitude of companies with promotionally priced product and we think we can compete favorably.”
Pricing is not yet available for the line, which will be marketed under the company's Movies 2 Go series along with a new promotional line of 7-, 8.5- and 10.2-inch overheads, Audiovox said.