So basically Nikon has attacked the high-end market with ferocity and done a pretty good job of it stealing market share from Canon in that segment, but at the expense of losing overall volume and market share in the other/lower segments. Higher margin on that stuff, so like Thom says, since the camera biz is the only business Nikon is making money in at the moment, it's been important to them to "own" the higher end of that market where all the margin is, and that they could do that with a lesser overall market share and still be happy.
Makes a lot of sense. Explains why pretty much ALL of the glass Nikon has come out with in the past year or so is very high end and very pricey glass for the professional shooters. Because that's the portion of the market they need to own to stay in business. 24/1.4, 35/1.4, 24-120/4VR, 85/1.4G, 28-300VR, etc. Almost all of that is priced in the four-figure range in USD.
You're on to some interesting speculation here, and I believe based on a range of experiences in the last year that Nikon has indeed captured the high end DSLR market. The D3s and D3x are dominant cameras and the D7000 is no slouch. These cameras made a lot of people switch. Canon made a mistake with the 1D4 not going full frame. And they have been lurking in the shadows for 2.5 years or more now with their best performing chip in the 5D2 (a crippled tool--some say extremely others are content enough--by anyone's account).
What bothers me as an investor in one line is simple: I want the line of tools I use to be leading the high end market, even if I'm not buying the highest end tool, because all that tech trickles down. Not only that, I can save for a long time and enter into the high end market by being thrifty if I desire, or buy used.
I think Canon still maintains an edge on glass. The tilt shift wide lenses are spectacular, the 70-200 2.8 II is a beast, and the super teles (I don't own any but shot them) are drool worthy. The new ones look to clobber the old if the MTF charts are to believed (clobber our accounts too as they are too expensive for mere mortals). But even then I could see myself saving up for a few years and getting a 200-400 1.4x or a new 500 L II.
It's troubling that Canon relies so heavily on it's rebel lineup year after year for its sales. Mid market and up market sales are just as important if not more. Not only that, but the strategy to constantly upgrade the rebels runs into a tech wall after awhile: you can only improve a line so much before it overtakes the flagship).
So, long way of saying Canon needs to impress. They need to innovate and do it soon. 5D3 or whatever the successor of the 5D2 is needs to be spectacular. The flagship needs to boggle the mind. It's been an eternity in technology terms since these were upgraded. I'm running out of patience and excuses and the D3x looks pretty freaking sweet even 2 years since release.