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Paul Sakuma

Google "iPhone 5" and you'll find a list of websites registered about the next generation of Apple's bestselling device. A product which, by the way, hasn't been released yet. But that hasn't stopped the brand's most devoted followers from musing about what it might look like and what fixes it will include with an almost religious fervor.

A new BBC special via Gizmodo on brand devotion likens Apple fanboys to religious followers.

The analogy makes sense. Members of the so-called Church of Apple make pilgrimages to the Apple store on the day of product releases and wait in line for hours, often fasting (perhaps not intentionally), all in order to get their hands on the latest iGadget.

Employees, not unlike preachers, are often "whipped up into an evangelical frenzy" about the company's wares as well, according to BBC journalists Alex Riley and Adam Boome. A store opening they witnessed seemed more like a prayer meeting.

They took their theory to neuroscientists who completed MRI scans of Apple fanatics' brains.

"The results suggested that Apple was actually stimulating the same parts of the brain as religious imagery does in people of faith," Mr. Riley and Mr. Boome write.

In a Psychology Today piece, Concordia University marketing professor Gad Saad says a good way to measure brand loyalty is to track repeat purchases by customers.

Many of the people who will purchase the iPhone 5 - whenever it comes out - probably already have another iteration of the device (if not multiples) already. He argues, though, that religion beats all other "brands" when it comes to consumer loyalty because it gets passed down generation through generation -- something most consumer product companies can't compete with.

Now that iPhone- and iPad-wielding children are no longer an odd sight) maybe Apple has reached that ultimate level of brand devotion - akin to religion - after all.

Be honest: do you worship your cellphone a little? Or is it just a means of communication?

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