Gonna have to agree with the OP. Pet battles are such a focal point of MoP that this will be the first time that I will simply wait until after release to see exactly what's happening with the game without going in headfirst unknowingly. Love the game, but things like this really have to make you wonder.
I would have killed for a little variety to something that was already implemented. More raids, more options for LFR, more options for transmogrification (cloth -> leather, anyone?), more battlegrounds that don't follow the AB/WSG formula, something other than grinding dailies for rep and tokens, you know, sky's the limit, and half the work is already done. Instead it just seems like we're getting a variation of something that already exists in a better form elsewhere.
A "focal point"? Pet battles have basically always been mentioned as a secondary activitity and just recently got onto the beta servers.
More options for transmogrification? You mean like the entire sets they have put into the challenge mode instances for the specific purpose of transmogrification? Why should you be able to transmog cloth--> leather? That's never been how the system works. It's not the games fault that they aren't anticipating your silly requests.