And yes, it's price-fixing, but apparently legal because it fucks only consumers, and not other large corporations
I respectfully disagree.
This is not price fixing ... any company is free to charge whatever they would like for their product. Price fixing is only when competing companies collude to control the price of a product or service in a free market. I don't believe Canon, Nikon and Sony have gotten together to try and do this. This is what is illegal.
As a small camera retailer this move means I will continue to sell Nikon cameras and in fact will try to sell them equally as hard as I do Sony. Nikon does not make any more money from an enforced pricing policy, but it does allow small dealers to compete. What this does is redistribute the product through the channel and local dealers are an important part of their channel (as they have discovered over the past few years as that channel has eroded). This also helps slow the monopolistic practices of large internet retailers.
Nikon was in danger of losing local presence in its' dealer channel. Not good for Nikon or even the large internet retailers, since we are their "showroom". I frequently have customers come in to my store, spend an hour or so of my employees time "thinking" about which camera to buy or checking out a new camera, only to leave saying "they'll be back", which of course they never are. Before this change my margin on a Nikon to compete with large "corporations" (not the manufacturers) was under 5%. Throw the 3% merchant service on there and now we're at 2%. Yes, every Nikon I sold lost me money, and everyone made money in the process except me (Nikon, Nikon USA, the credit card companies). That's a lot of cash-flow tied up in inventory that has no chance of helping cover costs. It's not like the margins at MAP are that great anyway, but at least I'm not losing money.
In the U.S., the sales tax issue is really the biggest problem. If the large internet retailers didn't have a huge price advantage by avoiding the collecting of sales tax, things would be dramatically different.
As it stands Canon is the only one who has not enforced MAP, but then again right know it appears most retailers are selling close to MAP or higher. We'll see once production ramps up to surpass demand ...