I don't doubt the Debian package system is a technically robust system. I would like to see more emphasis making it more approachable to end users. I think Lindows got this point right with their click-and-run system - although they screw up other bits - so it obviously is possible to put a friendly front-end on apt. click-and-run works well for web-distributed products but we shouldn't stand alone packaging either.
The biggest issue isn't debs at all but the fact that Linux distributions are completely fragmented when it comes to package management. Right now you can't create a package that can be installed on any linux system without falling back to tarballs or building for all the separate packaging systems.
I guess we're diverging from the original discussion a bit aren't we?