Exciting stuff Ken!
I too strongly believe in "the more the merrier", and in this space there is a strong upward trend. That's good for everybody. One data point you all might be interested in:
When I latched onto the Prop, it was near the beginning. We didn't have a lot of docs, other than the "guts" document Chip did, first rev of the manual, and some code moving around. (which actually was the documentation for me in many ways)
Back then, I would talk about it with the general response being, "meh." Who wants to go hardcore with just a CPU, when there are game consoles, computers and such?
Deffo felt like a niche thing, and in some ways it still is, but the times are changing. People are more interested now, and I can link to projects of many kinds on many different platforms that spark interest. This is a really good thing!
It has been my life experience the really killer platforms never see the large share. It has also been my experience that where there is something great, it's kept alive by the people who grok it for what it is. The Prop has a smallish community compared to others, and it's new in a lot of ways requiring some boot-strapping not as necessary for many other devices out there. OBC is always mentioning projects and such, and that's where the growth is at. People who enter this hobby, or who have professional interests, do so on any number of devices. Might be Prop, might be Xmos, Arduino, TI, PIC, you name it. Doesn't matter.
What does matter is they build the skill needed to then select a Prop when it makes sense, and having it makes sense means seeing what Props do and having people to talk to / work with to do them. That is where our small club has and continues to do a good job. If somebody walks in, they generally get a good experience and there is a lot of value added to the Prop because of that. One doesn't just buy a chip. They buy into the community surrounding it.
This is a big part of why Arduino has the share it does. This is also why we are growing Prop mind-share out there too.
There are always tech sweet spots. Cost / capability ratio is really great on some devices, not so great on others. That's all weighted by a given persons experience and interests too. Projects out there help with this big, and the more the merrier. Tools are another big contributor, and we've got great tools now, getting better! Compared to the early days, the choices now are potent, varied, growing, supported. More open now as well, though I personally don't see open as a primary selection criteria. So long as it's open enough, I'm good. Many differ on this, and the general trend seems to be "really open", and we are nearly there.
Props are very interesting devices, and those qualities that differentiate them also put them off the mainstream track. This dynamic is always in play, always will be too.
From where I stand, the single most important thing is whether or not the community surrounding the Prop is enough to move Parallax and the various vendors associated forward. If that's true, we gain and it's all viable. Prop I chips will be available for a very long time. Each new member is worth a lot over that time period too. There will be lots of one-offs, and every so often, somebody more than that. We need 'em all, but we need the "lifer" type users more, because they carry things through over the longer haul.
Retro-computing communities are still thriving on old stuff, and they see enough mind-share to continue to do new things, release software, hardware projects, etc... They all work to capture newbies, not like some dedicated effort, but more like just being open, friendly, fun, sharing, challenging, etc... We've got that here too, and it is a great thing, one that keeps me going personally.
IMHO, we are in a great time right now. Lots of new interest, and general public awareness of our niche is growing nicely right now, reinforced by many things in play economically, politically, and just culturally. The geeks are of age now, and are influencing things just as the boomers did before, and it's our time more than it isn't because of that.
So bring it on! Whatever device gets a person started, great! When they work that one over to it's limits, they will explore another one, or they will find one or the other aligned with their personal interests / product needs. Props are great, and will capture plenty of those as long as the majority of us are good ambassadors to our corner of the hobby.