Okay, since last night (for me in the UK) there have been a few more contributions to this discussion - thank you. I'll now reply in turn to each one:
donkahones - RE: "if you build it, they will come"
There is some truth in this I agree. But if you put yourself in the shoes of an electronics developer, wanting to make something and sell it, you need to have a good idea about the market and its size, otherwise it could be dead investment. Hardware development does not happen for free, even with the wildest ideals of the Opensource route!
Commercially, if you've no idea of how many boards or shields will be sold, then you cannot go to your finance controller or bank to ask for the money - you would not have credibility. For the individual it comes out of your pocket and nobody wants to waste their money on something that hasn't worked out.
pwillard - RE: "welcome to the world of OPENSOURCE"
Yes I know what Opensource hardware means, and I appreciate that it is different to Opensource software. Do you?
Opensource hardware has a real cost to the original developer, which means you need to make financial provisions to fund the venture. Money is needed for the development tools, manufacturing, testing and procurement of materials. Very different to the funding of software development and the hobbyist.
Jeff K - Surmises: "the fun is in the assembly of your own Arduino ideas."
Indeed it is. Most electronics enthusiasts start out by tinkering around with a soldering iron and a bag of bits. And now you can tinker around writing software too. It's so well done, that perhaps for the first time, non-engineers can use a microcontroller and have success.
Arduino appeals to a wide range of user types:
Hobbyists doing one-off experimental ideas and sharing them.
Academics who may use it as a platform for teaching or cheap development of research projects.
Creative people who find an affinity with technology and discovered Arduino for use in their installation artwork or exposition.
Professionals who see Arduino as a low cost, "no-brainer" development platform for their ideas. Some will be non-engineers who find the possibilities of Arduino very attractive, say in Medical, I.T. and automotive applications. And some will be engineers, like myself, who wish there was more technical capacity off the shelf.
Arduino should not exclude any type of user (unless they're up to no good). Therefore, it takes all types of developer to support particular aspects of Arduino and user needs.
westfw - RE:"OTOH, have you tried asking for such data?"
Yes I asked Massimo about the future of Arduino, and I suggested an enhanced platform as a concept. He responded, on copy to the rest of the Arduino team, but without saying anything too useful. He wished me well with the business, and welcomed me to the Arduino ecology.