So what exactly is IBM after other than that their clients should sign up to Second Life or Kaneva where they are selling servers?
Time. It is a play for time to divide the market until IBM has a product or a market strategy beyond "this all looks good for business". For the pioneers in X3D, IBM is about to do to them what the HTMLers did to the SGMLers until XML was created: FUD them to death.
Here is the problem: anyone who had more than a few years of experience at this knows that there is exactly one way to get neutral interoperability and data portability: a language. To develop that as a standard among the fractured market and push it through ISO where there is an existing standard means a) IBM has to kill the credibility of the standard or b) waste ISO in the same way it accused Microsoft of doing with OOXML or c) skip the standards and try to make the claim that open source = open standards.
The real prize is 3D IP. The companies IBM has been doing business with are VC-financed and they want that IP to pay off the very hefty bills for the financiers. IBM wants as much of that one billion invested as they can get. So it is in IBM's best interest to keep the market divided and distracted while it sells servers to the competitors.
For the authors, the problem is that the language IS the platform in so far as having more than one closed market for their work. For the vendors, the problem is a language for creating content is not the same as a language for creating tools to create content. In X3D, any world you build is an 'application' of X3D. Any viewer in theory can view it and if you are stingy with the scripting, they can. But an interactive drag and drop editor plus a MU servers is another set of standards and languages.
And that is where the virtual world community is watching to see announcements. This will go on for some time to come, but as authors, you should get your head around this:
The Language IS the platform.