I honestly can't figure out what the hell they're doing. It's supposedly geared towards the new gamers, and trying to get new people into the hobby without scaring them with 20,000 pages of rules. That's a fine goal which I support (though how its easier when one of the "Essential Line's" essential books is a several hundred page Rules Compendium is beyond me).
I don't know enough about 4e to know how the changes in Essentials affect the game, but it seems upon reading the official PR crap that some of the changes make it more like it used to be in older editions. That combined with the whole red box thing makes me think they are trying for people who never got on the 4e bandwagon, as well as older gamers for whom "Red Box" holds nostalgic significance.
And yet they say it doesn't mess with the existing 4e game. From what I've seen in commentary on various boards, it definitely will, and its potentially as significant a change as 3.5 was from 3.0.
All I know is that with WOTC's existing track record for twisting the truth for PR purposes, we won't know what Essentials actually is until it comes out. At that point we'll get a better understanding of what they were TRYING to do, which is apparently be all things to all people, past/present/future gamers.
We'll see how that works out.
If past attempts are any indication, whatever it is they are trying to do will cause a massive PR backlash.
And then there will be layoffs. Maybe even prior to the annual Christmas Fuck You's.
Edit: Here's an interesting opinion...