Of course Watson is about commercialization
Sure - showing the world what's happening in research labs is best done with glam and flair.
Watson wasn't just a well timed expo of incredible technology toppling meager humans. Nor is it the start of the end of humanity.
Technology companies will always paint the 'art of the possible' in the public mind because it gets folks excited. When the first caveman invented knife technology, you can imagine the excitement around the cave fire, unless you were the first test case of course.
IBM has always pushed the boundaries of material science and continued to drive innovation. Their patent records year on year speak to that. The fact that they have the largest dedicated math department in any private company means they are dedicated to solving problems.
Let's be pragmatic however - IBM's a company that is in business to make money. They have stock holders that want a good return on their investment. Clients of IBM enjoy a trust relationship and value assurances that what happens in the Research and Development Labs will make it's way into commercial applications that will give them an edge in their market.
Think of IBM's leading thought campaign with "Smarter Planet". It's not rocket science to associate the demo of Watson's incredible data crunching and accuracy that could very well lead to the next generation of medical diagnosis tooling, better decision support systems for critical infrastructure (emergency services, energy and water management systems, etc).
I for one am excited about the possibility of potential new applications of the technology developed during the creation of Watson.