Softly, softly is the approach this week from Apple as it rolls out iTunes v4.9 including podcasts, trims the iPod hardware line and cuts the price on the iPod Shuffle. Rumours abound of bigger announcements to come including the imminent launch of the much-touted iTunes mobile phone in conjunction with Motorola.

The new version of iTunes makes picking up podcasts, more than 3,000 are on offer, as easy as clicking ‘subscribe’ and the company’s own new music podcast is a very slick, polished affair. The BBC is in there with some news but I haven’t begun to explore the shows on offer yet. I suspect we will now get a plethora of professional quality podcasts from many broadcasters and publishers seeking to extend their products further.

The 30Gb iPod is gone and all iPods will tout colour screens, so soildifying the hardware range around the iPhoto model. There are 20Gb and 60Gb versions on offer with only £90 price difference.

The iPod Shuffle has been the subject of a great deal of press with ‘experts’ questioning whether it’s been a success and if it has somehow devalued the iPod ‘brand’. Changes in the form and function are likely but in the meantime Apple has dropped its price slightly – £10 off the 1Gb version (which I still desire despite buying a 60 iPhoto).