Lukas Litzsinger, the head designer for Netrunner, explains it like this:
"Ultimately, we made the decision to launch these Runners in their own mini-factions in order to ensure that each introduced creative deck-building possibilities without breaking or handicapping the game. Each has its own personality, and we felt that making them all neutral undermined their unique identities. It would have also meant that we couldn't push their power levels to the extent that we wanted; as neutral Runners each could have cherry-picked the best cards from the others. Additionally, by associating them all with their own mini-factions, we were able to carve out a unique aesthetic for each of these Runners with new card templating and retained the design space we would need to print more powerful neutral cards in the future, since all Runners would still have to pay influence for them.
"In the end, I feel confident that Apex, Sunny, and Adam will shake up the competitive environment in a good way, and that more casual players will have a lot of fun putting all of their signature cards together in one deck. Finally, I expect everyone will enjoy figuring out how to spend the twenty-five influence that each of these Runners has! Android: Netrunner has never been in a stronger position than now, and we look forward to taking the game to the next level."
I love the idea of Apex in-particular. Just this idea of this "other thing" out there on the net with its own ideas and agenda.
Expect the set to hit store shelves in the 3rd quarter of this year.