Back in the day of GIS 0.1, GIS pros passed around shp files and mif files. Geometry was described in one file with associated attributes in another. It was an elegant, simple design for an offline desktop GIS environment, and still supported today by commercial vector data vendors (e.g. NAVTEQ, TeleAtlas) and by private folks swapping files & sharing geographic data. The OGC adopted these ESRI and MapInfo creations as de facto standards of the day, and are now doing the same for an online Web world of geographic information exchange by adopting Keyhole Markup Language (KML), an XML format designed by Keyhole (now Google Earth).
I often find standards strange in that groups form with the intention of creating a collaborative environment in a competitive sphere. I never did get that. OGCs OpenLS started this way, with reps from all walks of LBS life getting together to pontificate what a saving grace standard should look like for a struggling LBS segment. That de jure standard was built, but who uses it? No one. For me, that was narcissistic work and a waste of time and energy. KML on the other hand fortunately was not conceived, but rather adopted by OGC after hundreds of millions of people downloaded Google Earth. This adoption in of itself historically suggests a format like KML has promise not because it's technically advantageous, but simply because people use it - just like they use shp files. And that use will continue, with or without OGC's blessing.