Apple may be poised to announce a slew of products in 2008, including a new range of Mac models and an iTunes movie rental service, according to investment bank Piper Jaffray.

Analyst Gene Munster on Monday suggested that Apple will "put the Mac back in Macworld" when he issued his Macworld preview in a research note to clients.

Updated Macs on the way?

"We believe the timing is right for Apple to update most of its Macs. Some models may only see minor specification upgrades to newer, faster Intel processors. The Mac Pro, for example, will likely benefit from the launch of the new Penryn-based Xeon processors," Munster wrote.

"The MacBook may see minor upgrades to its storage capacity and/or processor speed, and the MacBook Pro may also receive minor specification upgrades, but we also expect Apple to expand the MacBook lineup with one new model."

Meanwhile, Munster and his team are also expecting Apple to announce new partnerships with movie studios that could become the precursor to the eventual launch of iTunes movie rentals.

iTunes movies?

"If Apple begins renting movie downloads on iTunes, we expect a related software update ... enabling movie rentals direct to the Apple TV. In fact, the Apple TV software currently includes 'iTunes Store settings' in its settings menu, but the option is essentially inactive," he wrote.

"We expect this setting to be activated soon; users will likely be able to log into their iTunes accounts directly from the Apple TV and browse movie rentals, then download them directly to their Apple TV."

Unfortunately, Munster was unable to provide hard evidence to support his predictions, but told clients that Macworld will usher in a new era for Apple.

In other news...

According to reports, Sony Ericsson may be on its way to releasing its first slim flip phone, the Z660i, which will be 14mm thin and may include an external LCD. Sony Ericsson has yet to confirm these details, but the company is expected to officially announce the device in February.

If you're running Mac OS X Tiger or Leopard, you may want to take notice. Apple released 31 new security-related updates for the operating systems on Monday that patch holes that could allow malicious hackers to gain entry into your system.