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Google blows by Apple as the apple of your eye

Technically Incorrect: A survey finds that digitally focused brands are the ones customers cling to most. Except when they need a cup of joe.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

It's feeling lucky. And it's feeling loyalty.

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Loyalty is a fickle commodity these days.

We have too many choices, in people as well as things. If one doesn't delight us, we find another.

Even so, in our savvy-consumer society, surely some brands must inspire staunch emotional commitment from customers.

Turns out some do. Research consultancy Brand Keys has just released its annual list of what it calls Loyalty Leaders, brands toward which consumers have an unusual fealty.

This year's winner is Google for its search engine, up from sixth place in 2015. It's followed by Amazon for its online retail presence. Third is Apple, but only for its tablets. Loyalty toward Apple's iPhone fell three places to No. 6.

Last year's winner, Netflix, slipped to fourth place.

Still, tech brands fill the first 12 places before their supremacy is, um, disrupted by -- of all things -- Dunkin' Donuts. For its coffee, no less.

LG is the fastest riser for its phones -- from 46th place to 31st.

"It appears that digital brands work harder and create higher levels of emotional engagement," Brand Keys CEO Robert Passikoff told me.

I wonder if that's necessarily true. Might it be that consumers have become so reliant on technology for their work and their life's worth that what they see as loyalty is more a case of desperate dependence?

The survey was conducted in September among 42,792 consumers aged 18 to 65. The timing may have been propitious for Samsung. It slipped only three places, from 11 to 14. I wonder where it might be today, after its phone business blew up in its face.

Still, perhaps loyalty is given freely and disappears slowly. I deduce this from the fact that Google+ is the number 86 Loyalty Leader, above both Verizon and Microsoft.

I chuckled and asked Passikoff why this might be. He explained that social networking is generally ranked higher than wireless and computers.

"Based on previous years, Google+ is not likely going to show up next year, although that's entirely up to the ratings by the customers," said Passikoff.

Ah, yes. Those famously loyal Google+ customers. Both of them.