The other day I was talking to a friend about HD DVD (and Blu-ray) and why they offered a better experience than standard DVD (and, in particular, why HD was better than BD :-) ). Obviously the sound and picture quality are better, but he specifically asked what other features made the new formats compelling. As you might expect, I mentioned the great interactivity features like seamless menus, cool games, internet connectivity, and so forth as features that make old-school DVD look pre-historic.
"well, i can certainly agree with that. how does the storage help with that though? isn't that a function of the processing power of the player?"
Congratulations, we have a winner!
Whilst all the audio-visual content on a disc eats up a lot of capacity (feature film, audio tracks, commentaries, deleted scenes, alternate endings, documentaries, etc.), the interactivity features like games or internet connectivity rely on the software "platform" made available to the content authors and, in turn, on the processing power of the hardware. Interactivity has virtually nothing to do with disc capacity, yet this type of misinformation continues to be reported in the press on an almost daily basis.
Now -- hypothetically speaking -- if one believed one's format had more storage capacity than one's competition, one might be inclined to aggressively market that feature. But -- hypothetically speaking -- if one's format comes late to the party with less capacity than one's competition, one's claims linking features to storage capacity might come back to haunt one.
Hypothetically speaking, of course.
But any rational individual can see that this argument doesn't even make sense: In order to download information from the internet, you need more capacity on your (read-only) movie disc?
No; what you need to download information from the internet is a network connection and (preferably) somewhere to store that data so you don't have to download it next time. Neither of these things are delivered on a shiny disc, and neither of them are guaranteed to be in your Blu-ray player. Only HD DVD ensures that every player you buy can connect to the internet and permanently store the downloaded data on the device.
Sure, you definitely need somewhere on the disc to store the application code and the graphics and sounds that make up the advanced interactivity, but compared to the size of a 1920 x 1080 movie and lossless surround-sound, they're positively miniscule. Proof positive is that you can actually make fully-featured HD DVD titles on standard recordable DVDs today. That's right -- you could download our Interactivity Jumpstart Kit, author some cool menus and features with XML and script, and burn it on a red-laser DVD using your existing DVD burner. All in only 9Gb of space, and all with existing technology.
You don't need massive disc capacity to do advanced interactivity; you need a standard that guarantees a rich feature set in all players.