UPDATE (2012/06/28): Good news, Apple has finally improved their algorithms, and most of these apps have now been pushed to the bottom of search results. 👍🏻
A new spam-tactic is being used on the App Store to score downloads sourced from your competition's traffic: using the same app names as others, but with trailing punctuation added. — Although this is in violation of Apple's Terms of Service, it's currently extremely difficult for them to enforce against at scale.
Explanation + example
I run a site called Mobile17 (as many of you know).
We weren't first to market with our “Ringtone Maker” app, but we've been in the ringtone making space since 2005 (before the iPhone), and our app quickly skyrocketed to be one of the best and most popular ringtone makers on the entire iOS App Store. — This was partially due to us heavily marketing our apps on our website, which has served millions of mobile-content creations over the years, and then getting user feedback and refining the product at our own expense and effort.
However, recently, a slew of competition producing cheap clone apps has entered the scene, and they're using this “punctuation trick” to get their apps to appear right next to ours in App Store search results. — Generally, a developer will just add a period, plus-sign, or even a fake “trademark” symbol at the end of their app's name in order to bypass the Apple Developer portal's checks to ensure that names are unique and not conflicting with existing apps on the store.
Aside from obvious real trademark issues, this is why you don't see 10 or more apps on the App Store with the exact name “Facebook,” for example. — There can be only one of each in this case, but adding this trailing punctuation bypasses that guard unless Apple's app reviewers choose to enforce against app approvals for known brands. (… and, only the biggest players get this benefit!)
Reaching out, and getting a template response
Unfortunately, my complaints about this so far to Apple have been handled like this:
Thank you for contacting iTunes Connect. You cannot use an app name that is substantially similar to an existing app name by adding or removing spaces, exclamation points or other characters. If you see this happening you can use this link to report the issue: http://itunesconnect.apple.com/WebObjects/iTunesConnect.woa/wa/jumpTo?page=contactUs&contactfaq=rightsinfringement
… OK, so of course, I've responded and asked if this behavior was acceptable in their eyes. Their response to this follow-up was generally that they're only concerned about actual legal disputes (such as copyright and trademark issues)… so the only recourse a developer has is to file a DMCA complaint, and that's it.
Is Apple facing a viral outbreak of new developers producing batches of cheap clone apps and squatting for existing publishers' traffic? — I truly hope that they're able to sort this out soon.