The relaxation of the telecentricity requirement is a very big deal.
One of the biggest complaints against the 4/3 format is that it failed to deliver on the smaller size it promised, at least with respect to wide angle and normal lenses (the telephotos are certainly much more compact than their 35mm equivalents).
The main reason for this is that designing & building telecentric wide angle lenses imposes additional lens elements and a larger size and weight. Non-telecentric wide angle lenses have the potential to be MUCH smaller than telecentric ones.
The comparison in the article is a good one. Here's another: compare the Olympus 7-14mm with the Nikon 14-24mm:
The Olympus is nearly the same size, just about 1 cm smaller in diameter and length, but the Nikon at f/2.8 has twice as large a maximum aperture, and covers a full-frame image circle (which is twice the diameter & 4x the area of the 4/3 sensor)! Why are these two lenses so close in size considering the substantially larger light gathering area of the Nikkor? Because the telecentric requirement makes wide angle zooms for the 4/3 mount bigger than they'd otherwise be.
Micro 4/3 lenses will be even smaller than the potential savings in size implied by the above comparison. Without a mirror box retrofocal designs will be unnecessary (the Nikkor is a retrofocal design), which should further reduce the size of wide angle lenses in particular. No telecentricity, and no need for retrofocal designs means MUCH smaller wide angles --as Rick suggests, the rangefinder-size designs are once again in reach.
But with a 4/3 sensor Olympus and Panasonic can go way past the rangefinder designs, which needed to project an image circle TWICE the diameter of the one needed for a 4/3 sensor. So... these have the potential to be seriously compact, seriously high quality cameras.
P.S. I passed this news on to Mike Johnston:
He felt it was a significant event, saying: "I think that potentially it could up-end the entire camera market—which could look very different a year from now as a result." He subsequently notes, of course, that until we see actual products, all we know is the potential of the format. There's a photographic grave yard full of great ideas which were pulled off ineptly.
Incidentally, the Online Photographer is the best photography blog I've found, focused as it is less on the gear head minutiae (which he knows very well, particularly lenses)and more on the art of photography.