We often chalk up the failure of a venture to two reasons: that it doesn’t address any real needs, or that it doesn’t address needs better than existing solutions.
If Secret (or Whisper) fails, it wouldn’t be because of the former, that it’s entirely stupid. While it does have a quality similar to trashy magazines or reality TV, there is, at the same time, clearly some strong desire for an app that guarantees some anonymity. We just don’t quite know how to optimize it and what to do with it yet. In this case, the desire for some information that one is not quite comfortable to ask for/reveal is asking for a solution. Maya Baratz at Techcrunch has suggested that an effective anonymity app will allow you to privately share with someone to help them avoid a mistake you’ve made without you suffering any further repercussions (barring any issues around the accuracy and sensitivity of the material put up).
Viewed as such, Secret is just a first step, and I’m eager for this baby to grow up. (I can see an app as such being useful for whistleblowers or informants – clearly there is a need for either more boundaries or more opening up in order to make anonymity useful, instead of merely frivolous.)