It's taken a while, but someone has finally cracked it. I've been a Mac OS X launcher geek for a while now, having spent years with Quicksilver (at one point ranking it as my no. 1 Mac OS utility). I've also tried Alfred, and more recently, LaunchBar from the talented folks at Objective Development (the makers of Little Snitch). To be honest, Spotlight search has always been close, in particular since it nearly always ranks the 'top hit' correctly - which is usually the app I'd like to launch. The only thing missing from Spotlight, and from Mac OS X in general, is the ability to easily create global, system-wide keyboard shortcuts. There 'are' ways to do this, but they're complicated, and not something you get 'out of the box' with Mac OS X (which is a little weird).
And so along comes Apptivate - an excellent and extremely easy to configure system-wide, keyboard shortcut manager. Great work from Cocoabeans Software - as it scratched the itch I had, and has meant I can drop the other launchers, relying on Spotlight for the rest. Apptivate is free - for the moment at least, although their newly designed homepage has all the 'hallmarks' of an app that may be headed to the App Store. Try out Apptivate today ;-) UPDATE: In a tweet from the author, @apptivateapp - the app was in the App Store - but was removed due to sandboxing restrictions.