I like the phrase "custom shop style guitars" because it aptly describes the time we are living in at the moment. :wink:The real test for the PIA will be the long term, not the first year hype sales. I think the main issue won't be the dividing aesthetics, but the price. It's priced right up there with guitars we'd normally associate with being a step above, custom shop style guitars like Suhr/Anderson/Fender CS, but then I guess it depends how many Ibanez expect to sell per year, they may be right on the mark. I thought the Prestige AZ was not gonna succeed due to it being an almost as expensive Suhr copy, but I was clearly wrong.
I don't know if Suhr/Anderson would be able to make a PIA-like guitar for $3500. I think they make good guitars around that price but they seem to be much simpler in function and aesthetic. You are right that we usually associate $3500 guitars with companies that let you choose the color. (To be fair, Ibanez has been doing a little more of that lately.)
At the time, if I remember correctly, the Prestige AZ was a Suhr Modern copy but it was not nearly as expensive as a Suhr Modern with the same/similar features and specs. The Suhr Modern Satin was the "entry-level" Suhr and it was sort of the in the same ballpark as the AZ price-wise but I doubt that was the guitar the AZ was based on. It was a little rough around the edges...