Apple Inc released 45 software patches to address rare security vulnerabilities in its popular iPhone and iPod Touch mobile devices.

The company released them on Wednesday (June 17) as part of its widely anticipated iPhone 3.0 operating system.

"This is a large cluster of patches for the iPhone," said Dino Dai Zovi, a security expert who is writing a book on cracking the iPhone.

Apple has a stellar reputation when it comes to securing its devices. While it is unusual for the company to issue so many patches at once, analysts have yet to uncover any malicious software targeting the iPhone since Apple got into the mobile phone market two years ago.

Wall Street analysts said they were not alarmed by the news.

Such vulnerabilities are not unique to Apple. Technology companies constantly battle to stay ahead of increasingly sophisticated hackers. Every time a security flaw is identified, there is potential for hackers to exploit it.

Apple rival Research in Motion Ltd recently issued a security patch for its popular BlackBerry, addressing a glitch that had potential to let hackers use the device to break into corporate computer networks.

"Given the breadth of feature and functionality within the iPhone OS, it is not surprising that Apple would have security patches," said Cross Research analyst Shannon Cross.

Hackers have traditionally focused most of their time on writing programs that attack PCs running Microsoft Corp's Windows operating system because it sits on more than 90% of the world's personal computers.

Analysts expect that to change because sales of mobile devices are soaring as the PC industry slumps. Apple's iPhones and iPods are dominant players in the rapidly growing sector.

"They are no longer dumb devices used only to make phone calls. They hold a wealth of personal information and in some cases are being used as electronic wallets," said Joris Evers, a spokesman for No. 2 security software maker McAfee Inc.