The whole thing is - how much would they be cutting into their own sales. Rationally, they'd have to hold back on one or several features - to make it WORSE than the 5D3, for example. There needs to be differentiation between models- or people start migrating to the cheapest model that does what they need it to.
For example, if they gave it 22 MP - just like a 5D2/5D3- they cut into those sales - unless they cut back on a lot of other stuff.. They'd have to cut features out- like handicap it with a 9 point AF, or limit it to 12 MP, or give it 3FPS, etc... Leaving out smaller features- like MFA- really does not count.
So, if you had a 5D3, with 61 point AF, 6 FPS, etc - and you were, say a portrait photog or wedding photog- - the 5D3 is really a replacement camera for your business.. Now, let's throw into the market- a camera that costs under 2K, has 22MP, 5 FPS, and 19 point AF system- would you buy the new camera or the 5D3 ? It's too darn similar- in my opinion.. Sales of the 5D3 would dissipate- most would decide that they didn't need the 5D3 and dump them. Those looking for a 5D3- would now go after a BNIB xD - whatever it is called. New sales of 5D3's would essentially stop. That sounds good for Canon.
EOS 5D III, EOS 7D,EOS Rebel T4i, Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS II, Canon 24-105L, Canon 18-135 IS STM, 1.4x TC III, 2.0x TC III, Σ 50mm f/1.4, Σ 17-50 OS, Σ 70-200 OS, Σ 50-500 OS, Σ 1.4x TC, Σ 2.0x TC, 580EXII(3), Canon SX-40, Canon S100
Fond memories: Rebel T1i, Canon 18-55 IS, Canon 55-250 IS, 18-135 IS (Given to a good home)...