Interesting and feasible
Would you install an smartphone/pad app that preloaded headlines and text for El Reg so that when you were on the move it didn't have to transfer as much data... thus making the app significantly faster and a better experience than using a browser? I would. Travelling on a train and browsing the web on 3G and losing/gaining signal etc doesn't make for a snappy browsing experience.
I can see myself installing an app for several newspapers, and tech sites. I can't see it on the home PC though, because browsing is painless there... not unless the app made the experience better.
But is all of that impossible to deliver through a browser? I would have very much thought not. As others have said you can do it on www aleady to prevent content aggregation.
News sites want to entice traffic to come to them, but they want to ensure that a content aggregator doesn't swipe their content and stop the customer coming to their website. I'm noticing more and more when I do searches on Google I'm getting the content aggregator hits first, and in the most case they're just stripping the text out of where I want to be, and presenting it in their own format. Aggregation isn't really what they're doing, it's more like content piracy.
So I suspect instead of what the author said we will see something similar. We'll see content being obscured from search and aggregators. Then we'll see that getting more sophisticated so that people find the search results, but only part of the article is shown until they visit the site. Perhaps we'll even see the payway failing at the Times and them going for something more along the lines of the FT (you have to log in after a few pages, and you need to subscribe after a few more).
Whatever it is though, it's important to note that it has to work. If it doesn't work then something else will be tried.