People who don't spend a huge amount of time collaborating around spreadsheets strain to come up with probable use-case scenario’s for a larger iPad. They probably have as much desire for an “iPad Pro” as Martha Stewart would a jacked-up, camouflage clad, 4-wheeler.
Spreadsheets are the medium of communication in the corporate world and Microsoft Excel is the accepted standard. Everything gets done in spreadsheets. And I mean everything. From the front line administrative assistant putting together a simple phone list to high level VP's mulling over a high dollar acquisition. When we sit at our desks, we work on spreadsheets and when we gather together in meetings we discuss the spreadsheets we were just working on.
And guess what? Spreadsheets suck on an iPad. I prefer at least a 22" monitor to work on my financial models but in a pinch I could work on my 13" laptop. Working on a 9.7" iPad is painful and the iPad Mini or iPhone is out of the question. To be fair, collaborating around spreadsheets regardless of the device is difficult. The reason why this is so may not be apparent to many so I'll take a brief stab at it.
Spreadsheets are not like written documents. You may use Microsoft Word to write a letter or documentation and when you're done, that is it. It get's saved and filed. However, it's not uncommon in the business world for a spreadsheet to constantly updated and modified for five to ten years. And they have a tendency to grow in every direction possible. That means lots of columns and rows that just don't fit nicely on a small screen. People who don’t use Excel often may not see screen real estate as a problem. It is possible to create quick and simple little tables on an iPad. It may take a little more effort due to the lack of a mouse but it is possible.
But most corporate spreadsheets are like the city of New Delhi, India. They were not designed but grew into sprawling beasts with large footprints. If you want to see more columns and rows your only recourse is to make everything smaller. This, however, makes the cells hard to work with. The tinier the cell, the harder it is read the numbers. And on a 9.7” screen at 100% the numbers are already really, really small. Also, selecting a specific cell with your fat finger and highlighting ranges starts to get challenging really quick. It really is easier to use a mouse and a pointer than to use your fingers. But that is another issue altogether that not even a bigger screened iPad would solve. A stylus might be an improvement but never having used a stylus with spreadsheets I just can't comment.
Even if a stylus is an improvement, I doubt it would be as efficient as the mouse which allows us to use the right and left buttons in conjunction with the pointer. Business people using spreadsheets rarely key ranges directly into their cell formula's, they generally highlight a range of cells by holding down the left button and dragging over the desired cells. And the ever-present right-click menu is something most people would be loathe to get rid of. Years or even decades of muscle memory asserts itself with the trusty right-click tool box. These two items alone would be deal breakers to most financial analysts using an iPad to create their spreadsheets.
I should also mention that weight trumps size. I’d like a larger screened iPad but not if it is going to be heavy. If I had to choose between a 13” iPad that was over 1.5 lbs or my current iPad Air 2, I’ll take my Air 2. But if I had to choose between an iPad Pro that was 1.5 lbs or less and the current iPad Air 2, I’d pick the iPad Pro. That is one of the reasons I was never tempted by the Surface Pro 3. I don’t care how big the screen is if it is too heavy to use as a magazine once I’m done working.
My dream scenario for an iPad Pro would be a 13” iPad which allowed for the use of a bluetooth mouse and that was no heavier than an iPad 2. I doubt the mouse would ever happen but a larger screened iPad would do a lot to help make the numbers easier to read. And to some extent, a stylus would help overcome the issue of selecting cells and ranges.
I’m already seeing some iPad’s in the office among mid to higher level management. They are brought to meetings to reference material or for taking notes. I’ve also seen iPads propped up on Logitech Ultrathin Keyboards right next to the laptop. The iPad is used just for e-mail while work get’s done on the main PC. But in every case, the iPad is a secondary device that takes back seat to the laptop. And corporate IT sees it with their skeptical eye as an additional expense only bestowed upon the chosen ones.
If Apple could somehow turn the iPad Pro into a viable workhorse machine that people could choose instead of a laptop, an important barrier would have been breached. At that point, corporate IT would no longer begrudge the iPad as a dubious secondary expense given to the Prima Donna’s. If a new employee chooses an iPad or a laptop on his first day of work it wouldn’t matter from a budget standpoint. The corporate environment is already one in which use of the local hard drive is discouraged at all costs and all files are to be stored on the network. Most work is not particularly taxing on the CPU and even the use of USB drives is avoided if possible. Why not use iPads? If it is purchased in lieu of a laptop and the security is superior it could even be preferable.