Nikon has an 'old' 35mm f/2 and a pro-quality 35mm f/1.4 in FX format, which are very close in price to their Canon EF counterparts. What do you suppose was Nikon's rationale for the 35mm f/1.8 DX lens? It's worth noting that on Amazon's list of bestselling lenses, the Nikon 35/1.8 DX is ranked #5 and is Nikon's second-best selling lens.
I see - about $165 difference. Once again I'm totally wrong! I'm sure some of the savings are from the obviously reduced build quality (no distance scale window, notably smaller max magnification due to focusing a few inches farther than the f/2, but still the same weight) but (as I had hoped) Photozone's MTF charts (the APS-C 16mp D7000 results) show the DX format f/1.8 lens identical in corner sharpness but pulling far ahead beyond that. Outstanding! As for the f/2, from what I've been able to gather it was introduced around 2001, so not a particularly old lens - but perhaps not a modern classic either.
Since APS-C DSLRs are currently the mainstay in the market it does make sense to have a better, cheaper alternative to a full-frame lens whose image circle goes mainly unused (especially when it doesn't even give much better vignetting results than the lens, not to mention the apparently markedly worse resolution figures).
However, back to Canon lenses for a moment: The EF 35mm f/2 is $330, which seems a slight savings over the Nikkor lens ($360), so there is still an argument to be made that in terms of sheer price there could be an EF-S version made for substantial savings all around. The other side of the argument isn't as convincing - while the DX Nikkor 35 seems overall a much better lens (for its format) than the f/2 full format version, Canon's f/2 does not (again relying on Photozone's data) exhibit the marked resolution drop off beyond the centers. Still, I'll agree that cost is the primary consideration for many on the APS-C system. I wouldn't expect a EF-S version to get worse, but unlike the Nikkor side, I also don't expect it to get that much markedly better, either.