I agree with the “Software” GUI for newbies. I understand there is pacman for the CLI, there is Octopi and Pamac and Pacaur…but the OP nailed it, describing how these “fall short” with new users. We live in a world where users have become accustomed to browsing Google Play or Apple Appstore to look for software, read reviews, and make decisions regarding installation. It’s not a right vs. wrong…it’s simply a matter of what one is used to and, therefore, expects. If expectations are not met, it is viewed as “inferior” or “not yet ready.”
IMO, the popularity of Ubuntu and Mint distros can largely be attributed to their user-friendly Software Center/AppGrids. It looks like the familiar Google Play, or Apple Appstore, both of which make it easy for a new user to “discover” an application to perform a task the way they want it done. Manjaro is already pretty awesome, IMO, but if the goal is increased usability and increased popularity with a user base, a Software Center type application certainly won’t hold it back; and may, in fact, attract an influx of “new” users who are expecting this feature.
This isn’t rocket science. To make a distro more usable, or more popular, you simply duplicate what “other” more usable and popular distros have done. Once achieved, to surpass them, you must innovate. These do not have to be mutually exclusive concepts. JMO…
Chalk me up as an enthusiastic +1 for this idea!