The new Aaron Chase model for 2004 tells me that Cannondale is watching the market and knows what the people want as usual. Looks like a reasonable components spec, and I imagine that if the bike catches on they'll start offering more freeride hardtails with higher-end parts specs as well. There's not any high-end gadgetry or anything on the bike, so there's nothing expensive to break. Mavic wheels (But Cannondale hubs ) Avid disc brakes, and 2.35 Maxxis tires. Seems like a solid entry into the freeride hardtail world.
I don't have a clue as to how much it's going to cost, however.