Just a quick reminder on how companies price goods today.
There are pricing strategy consultants that do a lot of research on how to price such goods. I know of one such company that employs over 500ppl who do nothing else. Believe me, when I tell you that the rational for Nikon and Canon to price their products like they are priced takes exactly into account how much they can sell, how much discount they will give in the future after 6months, 1 year 2 years etc ... and how the competition will respond. Now don't get me wrong all I want to say is that the pricing even if ppl here don't like it follows a strategy that is probably planed to much greater detail than what you might think...
So the 3500 USD against 3000 USD is exactly where both companies see their chances.
Nikon needs market share (as it was loosing a lot the last few years), while Canon needs to become more profitable per unit sold ... but those are two different strategies so the target pricing shows the difference we see here now.
While all of that is certainly true, price is also based on the cost to manufacture, cost of advertising, and other intangibles plus a markup. The marketing people confirm that there is a market and set a target price that will sell. If the two are not compatible, there will be no product, since it must make a profit. Canon has said in the past that they spend a huge amount of time trying to design a camera that can be made to a price point established by marketing,
I do believe that there are two different things happening.
Nikon is trying a strategy of getting cameras into the hands of consumers who will buy their very profitable lenses. The D800 reuses many internal parts from the D700, so the R&D cost is less, which helps.
Canon has either a more expensive design to produce, or, more likely, just sees that the market will accept the higher price. In that case, slow sales will quickly cause a hefty price drop.