Interesting thread for sure, but the growth of this sport has very little to do with the cost of gear or the cost of lessons. It matters, but is not limiting the growth.
Trust me, there's plenty of money in the world, so why isn't it spent in droves on kiteboarding?
Access to training and access to quality riding spots and unpredictable conditions are the biggest barriers.
Take skiing and snowboarding.
I'm the head trainer for a local ski hill's ski school and also run a kite business where I have 4 others help me with lessons.
In one good day at the ski hill, I will teach more new students to ski than in an entire year of kite lessons.
Skiing is easy to schedule and we hardly ever have to reschedule.
Kite lessons are a pain in the ass. We're always rescheduling due to conditions.
Skiing can be done every day of the week all day long. Snow is more predictable and can also be made.
Kiteboarders are lucky to have 2 days a week to ride unless you live in one of the lucky windy places worldwide and you cannot make wind.
I'll be that in our small 3 state midwest (WI, MN, MI) region of ski hills, we teach and train 10 times more new skiers and snowboarders than all kite lessons worldwide. Add the Rockies, Canada, East Coast, Europe, Asia, etc. and the amount of new skiers and snowboarders worldwide is massive in comparison to kiteboarding.
The money matters only for those who want to get into our sport. Getting the masses into it will never happen and that's a good thing.
There's a lot of money being spent on skiing and snowboarding. Skis, boots, binding, jacket, pants, gloves, hood, goggles, polypro, rubbers, etc. and your over $2,000. Add trips to the mix and it's another $3,000+.
For kiteboarders, there's a much much bigger commitment to STAY in it once riders start. There are so many little things to know and understand. If you are a beginner skier, staying on green runs is easy and conditions will be the same. If you are a beginner kiteboarder, conditions can change quickly from green to blue, black or double black and heaven forbid Yellow (aka...Kevin Keele like).
Money makes a difference at times, but there's much more at play as to why kiteboarding will stay more of a fringe sport and that's not all bad.
Hope this helps and I welcome any comments, other thoughts, etc.