What causes people to camp out overnight for the privilege of shelling out hundreds of dollars for a gadget? That’s the question we aimed to answer this morning at the Apple Store in Seattle’s University Village shopping center, talking with people at the front of the line for the iPhone 5.

Here are excerpts from our conversations.

Sean Luckman, in line since 4 p.m. Thursday

Why are you in line for an iPhone 5? Ready for an upgrade. Waited for the last couple generations.

Are there particular features that made you want to get out here and wait that long? The speed, Passbook, high hopes for the mapping app. Looks like they’ve got some work to do, but so did Google when they came out with their app.

Any tips for people who want to do this next time? How do you survive an overnight at the Apple store? Bring a jacket, which I didn’t do. Bring big, giant cushions, which I didn’t do. That’s it. It’s a big cordial group, and we had a good time.

Otto Wiskerchen, the first person in line — again

How many times have you waited outside an Apple store overnight? Five times.

Why do you do it? I want the latest and greatest as soon as I can get it.

What do you do with those old devices? The first iPhones, for example, I was selling them, because my wife didn’t want them. With the 4, I finally got her to take a 4, so she quit asking me to look things up, take pictures, and do this and that. So now she has her own phone, which is where my 4S is going to go. So now she’ll get a better camera. And then her phone will get passed on to my brother in this case. And then all my iPads, same process.

So basically your family gets your castoffs? Exactly.

Is there anything in particular about the iPhone 5 that made you want to wait, other than the fact that it’s become a tradition for you now? The LTE — I download a lot of manuals and such for my line of work, so being able to grab the data faster. And then the GPS, because I have an old GPS that needs to be updated in my vehicle now. Instead of doing that I’m just going to go ahead and rely on the maps that Tom Tom has put out in cooperation with Apple.

Anything else about the device itself? The hardware? Or is it mostly the software for you? It’s mostly the software. I’m looking to get iOS 6, and I want the hardware that it was designed to run on. The wider screen will make the GPS a little bit better.

Kathy Proctor, in line overnight

Why are you in line for the iPhone 5? I haven’t upgraded since the 4, so I’m ready. I’m ready for an upgrade. And Siri.

Is there anything in particular about the device that you’re looking forward to? Thinner, lighter, good looking. Stealth-bomber looking. In black. That’s what I’m looking forward to.

Why get out here and wait overnight? I wanted the phone, but I think primarily it was the experience of camping out overnight.

Joseph Kim, in line since 9:30 p.m. Thursday

Why are you in line for the iPhone 5? I need to have the newest one!

Why wait in line? Why is it so important to be here now? I really want it. I need it! It’s the latest technology. Apple keeps on coming out with things that I need to buy! Shut up and take my money!

Chen Jai Tong, in line since Thursday evening

Why are you waiting in line for an iPhone 5? Apple products are always fantastic. Since 3GS, I catch up with all of the Apple products.

It seems like a lot though, to wait overnight to spend your money. Why did you do that? Just a new experience.

Cliff DesPeaux and Angie DesPeaux

Why are you waiting in line for an iPhone 5? 

Angie: It’s tradition for us.

Cliff: We’re insane. We have nothing better to do.

How many years have you done it?

Angie: This is our second time for the iPhone, and we did it once for the iPad, also, in March.

Cliff: I think that one of our first dates was camping out for the iPhone 4.

What kind of tone does that set for a relationship?

Cliff: Well, we got married successfully.

Angie: So far, so good.

Cliff: And we met on Twitter.

As long as you’re not looking for an upgrade later on.

Angie: No. Always upgrading together.

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Comments

  • guest

    Very empty lives and/or self-esteem issues.

    • GeekWire Fan

      While that may be true for some people in line, it’s likely much more true about yourself – based on your anger from reading about people seeking and finding happiness.

      • guest

        Anger? I genuinely feel sorry for anyone who thinks “happiness” revolves around waiting in line at an Apple store just so they can claim “first” to get something everyone else can buy a week later without wasting hours of their lives lining up.

  • Guest

    Congratulations to the brave pioneers who have sacrificed to be among the first to own iPhone 5!

    • Tim_Cook

      I’ve approved this message

  • narcosis65

    Calm down, it’s just a phone. Soon there will be an iphone 6 and a 7 and so on…

  • guest

    Good thing they already new where the Apple store was. If they’d used the new maps software they’d probably have gotten lost en route ;-)

  • joethecoder

    Kind of sad.

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