This month's Ampersand article discusses a ten-product lineup referred to as Essentials, italics and all. Its designed to be a kind of stepping-stone path that allows players completely new to D&D to gradually transition from barebones rules to a more comprehensive structure. My understanding is that it kind of worked like this for OD&D, which had like, four different rulesets. Does it work well? I'm not sure since I started out with 2nd Edition.
Logically it makes sense. Start new people out small. Very small. The "Red Box" will have limited options and only get you to 2nd-level. Aside from rules, its got a lot of other shit like dice, an adventure, tokens, and power cards. I might pick it up for the tokens alone, which will prolly look a lot better than coins. >_> After that, players can pick up additional rules as they go, adding more and more until they shell out for a core set.
I think that this lineup is good for getting players in that are completely new to the scene and dont know a guy (who might know a guy) that can guide them through the process. While initially cheaper to get in the game, players will end up spending more to get the core rules, and in the end spend more than if they just splurged on the core books in the first place. That being said, there's something attractive about spending a fraction of the money to get into a game you arent sure about...so I can see where they are coming from.
Mostly I'm looking forward to the Dungeon Tile sets, since I hear they're gonna go 3D (meaning that I can stop buying Dwarven Forge and save a couple hundred dollars).