I can see the logic behind Canon writing minimum pricing agreements into their supply contracts. If these did not exist, there would be a ‘race to the bottom’ which would negatively impact upon Canon’s product perception, but more seriously, would destroy Canon’s dealer network. Effectively, supply of Canon products would end up being concentrated in the hands of a few large retailers (like Amazon), who could offer the lowest prices by best exploiting their economies of scale. These few retailers would then be in a position to dictate terms to Canon. It is therefore hardly surprising that Canon is taking action to maintain the status quo.
I think that people are annoyed with this move because Canon have created the perception that their products are getting more expensive than Nikon’s, whilst at the same time offering little to no added benefits for their users. This is particularly true with the 5D MkIII, where Canon is seeking to price it against the D800e, when the market price was started to fall to closer to the D800. The strategy will only work (i.e. generate more revenue for Canon) if the demand for the 5D MkIII is sufficiently inelastic, that is the number of people who do not purchase a 5D MkIII at the higher price is more than offset by the additional revenue from those who do. I’m sure that Canon will be monitoring this closely and will react accordingly.