The good news on pricing is exchange rates. With the recent decline of the yen, a new camera would be VERY expensive in Japan if there is much of a price increase in the US and Europe. I'm still expecting a $1799-1999 price.
Good point on the competitive positioning vs. Canon. I think Nikon likes to announce late but ship shortly thereafter. They also will get a big bump early, but timed right just as that bump ends they move into holiday promotion. The timing of Nikon's strategy let's Canon announce a product and place media buys, then get crushed by Nikon if Nikon delivers a major step forward in technology. If your technology is really strong, its a good way to gain advantage.
It almost feels like Nikon has skipped a release in the DX X00 lineup. Reports are they were delayed by the tsunami and Thailand floods, but at a point where they could revisit the product design and move forward.