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How are those relevant to AF? Nikon has had many firsts in SLRs, but so have Canon, Olympus, Minolta, Pentax, etc. Canon has been particularly a leader in the area of AF.
But they were also leaders of tight market segmentation by AF, and it was thanks to Nikon (D300, D700) that Canon's non-1D bodies got finally better AF than 9pt retro-2000 one. Therefore it's not unreasonable for some to expect Nikon to make the first move, it seems.