March 24, 2023

Conservatives’ Aggressive Ad Campaign Seeks to Cast Doubt on Health Law

WASHINGTON — Though many of its rules will not take effect for months, President Obama’s health care law is already the subject of an aggressive advertising campaign by Republicans to sow doubts about how it will work.

In one of the largest campaigns of its kind, Americans for Prosperity, a conservative advocacy group financed by Charles and David Koch, will begin running television commercials this week asserting that the law will limit Americans’ health care choices.

The group is spending more than $1 million on the campaign, which will initially include television advertising in Ohio and Virginia, along with online ads asking people to test their “Obamacare risk factors.”

Republicans have staked much of their near-term political success on the bet that the health care overhaul will be unpopular with Americans as it is implemented in a process that they have warned will be chaotic and frustrating. Many Republicans in Congress have said they would push to repeal the law.

So far, the persistent criticism of the law has served the party well with its base. Now, Republicans hope it will resonate with swing voters the party needs to recover from its losses last year.

In a significant strategic shift, Americans for Prosperity is carefully aiming its new campaign at one of those voting blocs: young women.

“How do I know my family is going to get the care they need?” asks a young mother of two who stars in a commercial, the first in a series that Americans for Prosperity plans to expand to as many as seven states. “Can I really trust the folks in Washington with my family’s health care?”

The ads will be broadcast on cable and network television during programs popular with women like the Food Network cooking competition “Chopped,” “Law Order: SVU” and “Good Morning America.” Mr. Obama’s political group, Organizing for Action, started running ads of its own last month that promote the law’s benefits.

For months, Republicans have been sounding the alarm over impending job cuts by small-business owners, who say they will cut back on workers to avoid having to provide health insurance. And when the White House said last week that it would delay until 2015 the requirement that employers with more than 50 full-time workers provide their employees with health insurance, many conservatives immediately seized on the announcement as a sign that the law was already proving unmanageable.

The delay, announced after Americans for Prosperity had produced its ads, sent the group’s strategists back to the drawing board. They are now testing messages based on the idea that even the Obama administration acknowledges that the law is flawed.

“We think that once we incorporate the new bullet points about how the president is already delaying key aspects of the law, it will be even more effective,” said Tim Phillips, the group’s president.

Conservatives see the fight over the health care law as the defining political debate of the day. They believe it presents them with a rare opportunity to call the president’s leadership into question and raise doubts about the effects of his signature domestic policy achievement.

When Americans for Prosperity wrote the script for its new campaign, which Mr. Phillips described as an effort to “start softening the ground” ahead of the health care law’s implementation, the group wanted to avoid any personal attacks on the president. (The script mentions Mr. Obama’s name only in the context of “Obamacare,” for example.) Mr. Phillips said Americans for Prosperity tried to learn from the mistakes that conservative groups like his and the Romney campaign made in attacking the president last year.

“Too often we fell into a broad-based ideological argument, and I think we failed to get at ‘Look at what they’re doing and how it impacts you,’ ” he said. “I think where we win is on the impact of a specific policy.”

To that end, the online component of the ad campaign asks people to enter information like their age, gender and type of employer. It then generates various “risks,” like longer waits, delayed care and having to share “personal health information” with the Internal Revenue Service.

The Campaign Media Analysis Group at Kantar Media estimates that from 2010, when the law was signed, to 2015, $1 billion will be spent on ads that criticize or defend it. That includes ads for candidates who oppose the law. Half of the $1 billion has already been spent, the group said.

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News Analysis: A Fit of Pique on Wall Street

The temptation is not to take Wall Street’s truculence too seriously and treat it as an inevitable, but passing, reaction to a world with less easy money.

But if stocks and bonds keep declining, doubts about the Fed’s withdrawal could deepen, leading to a situation in which even the real economy suffers.

In a pivotal communication, the Fed on Wednesday clearly laid out the steps it would take to reduce the extraordinary stimulus it has injected into the financial system and economy since the financial crisis of 2008. It stressed it would withdraw its support only if the economy were strong enough. The Fed’s chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, sounding not unlike a soothing parent, even said the central bank would reverse course if it mistakenly pared back too soon.

Such placating words hardly satisfied investors. The benchmark Standard Poor’s 500-stock index dropped 2.5 percent on Thursday, its steepest one-day decline since November 2011, and ended the week down 2.1 percent. The 10-year Treasury bond also plunged in price, which pushed up its yield to 2.54 percent at the end of the week, capping a sharp run-up over the last month.

Wall Street finds itself in an uncomfortable place. Perhaps more than at any time since the crisis, it knows it must prepare for a world without the Fed’s largess, one that is also facing uncertainty about tightening credit in China and continuing debt woes in Europe. Of course, stocks and bonds were always going to sell off when it became evident that the Fed was changing course.

In the past, markets have panicked initially when investors anticipated a tightening of interest rate policy by the central bank. Prices soon recovered as investors realized a stingier central bank need not spell doom. In 1994, investors sold off in the face of a toughening of Fed policy, but stocks recovered and rallied in the next years. To the optimists, the week’s instability may have merely been the market wobbling as it tried to stand on its own two feet again.

“I think it’s very fair to describe what’s going on in the markets as very normal,” said David Bianco, an equities strategist at Deutsche Bank. “Normal for when there are big changes in interest rate policies.”

Though talk about withdrawing support unnerved some investors, it may turn out to be a necessary step to build further confidence, Mr. Bianco said. After several years of Fed support, investors are not quite sure whether the searing rally in stock prices since 2009 is entirely genuine. But if stocks recover now and keep climbing, the jibes that the markets are riding on a “sugar high” could lose credibility.

Stocks are vulnerable to a tightening of Fed policy when they are overvalued. But the corporations in the S. P. 500 are reporting historically strong profits.

“The second quarter is still estimated to be an all-time record,” said Howard Silverblatt, a senior analyst at Standard Poor’s. And because of those strong earnings, stocks do not look overvalued, he said. The companies in the S. P. 500 have a stock market value that is 15 times as large as their expected combined earnings for this year. That multiple is well below the 19 times that is the average for the last 25 years, Mr. Silverblatt said.

As strong as earnings might look, the stock market reacts negatively to any hint that profits may fall below expectations.

Stocks did recover a bit on Friday, with the S. P. 500 rising 4.24 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,592.43, and the Dow Jones industrial average climbing 41.08 points, or 0.3 percent, to 14,799.40. But it is highly unlikely that the markets have seen the last of extreme volatility. The sell-off in the bond market has caused interest rates to rise, which could depress economic activity and weigh on corporate profits. Weakness in foreign economies could also take a toll on earnings. Seeing that coming, investors might very well dump stocks.

It is these crosswinds that have convinced some people that the Fed should have waited to talk about an exit until the economic signals at home and abroad looked stronger.

James B. Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, who is on the Fed committee that shapes monetary policy, dissented to the Fed’s statement on Wednesday and registered his disagreement with some of the committee’s decisions. On Friday, the St. Louis Fed took the somewhat unusual step of explaining his opposition at length in a news release, saying that Mr. Bullard thought the economy was not yet strong enough to start a stimulus withdrawal. That view is widely shared on Wall Street.

“Bullard is saying it’s important to look at economic conditions now — and they are fairly weak,” said Kenneth B. Petersen, a portfolio manager at Laffer Investments.

One area of the economy that investors will be following closely is housing. The Fed’s policies led to historically low mortgage rates, and a revival in house prices. But a rapid reversal in rates has taken place. House prices still look affordable on a historical basis, so the higher cost of borrowing may not hurt too much, said Michael Cudzil, a portfolio manager at Pimco. But he added, “This will create a little more of a headwind for the economy.”

Despite the Fed’s efforts to reassure the markets, it is still essentially leaving them to comfort themselves. And as with any unsteady recovery, the risk remains of a tumble or two before footing can be fully regained.

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Bank of England Keeps Interest Rate at Record Low

LONDON — The Bank of England decided to keep its benchmark interest rate unchanged on Thursday amid doubts about the strength of Britain’s economic recovery.

The central bank left its interest rate at 0.5 percent, a record low, and also held its program of economic stimulus at £375 billion, or about $560 billion. Some economists had expected the central bank would expand its stimulus program to help keep the economy from falling back into recession, from which it emerged only in the third quarter of last year.

Britain’s central bank has been focusing on reviving economic growth by keeping interest rates low and encouraging banks to lend more even though inflation continued to hover above the central bank’s 2 percent target. The pound has been tumbling since the beginning of this year and fell to the lowest level in almost three years as some investors anticipate the central bank to inject more money into the ailing economy.

Brian Hilliard, an economist at Société Générale in London, said more stimulus, or so-called quantitative easing, was just a matter of time.

“If you’re worried about growth and not inflation, you’re going back to quantitative easing,” Mr. Hilliard said.

But he also warned that allowing the pound to fall could be a risky strategy because it would ultimately push up the price of goods and services in Britain. Higher consumer prices could damage economic growth, he said.

Mervyn A. King, the governor of the Bank of England, who is due to be replaced by the Canadian Mark Carney in about four months, was one of three monetary policy committee members last month who voted in favor of more economic stimulus. Mr. King has repeatedly said that more needs to be done to provide credit for businesses. The central bank’s current lending program suffered a setback when lending in Britain fell at the end of last year.

Mr. Carney, who is expected to step down as governor of the Bank of Canada in June, has been trying to dampen expectations in London that he would radically change the way the bank helps the economy. He previously suggested he would continue to allow inflation to remain above the target while seeking to revive the economy.

Signs of an economic recovery remain weak. Retail sales rose last month but manufacturing surprisingly shrank in February and activity in the construction sector also declined.

Britain lost its triple-A credit rating last month from Moody’s Investors Service, which cited continuing weakness in the economy. The rating cut was widely expected but still offered ammunition to those critical of Prime Minister David Cameron’s austerity plan. The opposition Labour Party argued the debt downgrade was proof that the austerity measures went too far and were strangling growth.

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The Haggler: When Customer Service Is a Dead-End Street

Au contraire, argued a fearless few. One reader said he thought McDonald’s might simply be trying to alert people who don’t eat pork — Muslims and kosher-observant Jews, for instance.

But would someone with a dietetic restriction against pork ever even consider ordering something called a McRib? Even if the answer is yes, there is another problem here. If the point of the ad is to give a heads-up to the pork-averse, it would need only say “It’s pork!” The world “real” in this context is unnecessary.

Of course, if McDonald’s posted ads for the McRib that merely stated “It’s pork!” the subtext of the ad would be, “We believe our customers are really stupid.”

Someone else argued that the ad helps because pigs aren’t the only animals with ribs that are barbecued. Beef ribs are popular, too. Fair enough. Yet, again, if the goal is to eliminate any doubts about the origins of the meat, “It’s pork!” would suffice. No need for “real.”

But another reader made a point that the Haggler believes must be shared.

“I thought you were going to note that there are no ribs in the McRib,” wrote Jack Schwartz of Baltimore. “It’s parts of the pig that have been formed to look like ribs.”

Actually, according to a McDonald’s spokeswoman quoted in a Business Insider article in December, the McRib is made of “simple ground pork.” Which sounds like a combination of pig parts that could very well include ribs. But the rib look of the McRib — that is indeed an illusion.

So perhaps a more illuminating slogan might be “McRib: Only the look is fake!” That might not sell as many sandwiches, but it is certainly more informative.

O.K., letter time.

Q. On May 9, 2012, a certificate of title was awarded to Bank of America as part of a foreclosure on property I own — a vacant lot that I had hoped to build on. But Bank of America has continued to report delinquent payments to credit-score agencies, like Equifax. This means that I could have bad credit reports for all eternity, with no hope of ever improving my credit score.

Rectifying this problem has proved impossible. The call-in procedure at Bank of America seems designed to frustrate. No one seems to know the correct number to call. When I finally reached service reps, they were not allowed to call me back and could only repeat a robotic litany: “We have no record of a foreclosure sale. Would you like to make a payment?”

 I finally reached a supervisor, but she would not provide me with a direct number.  I had to go  through another generic number.  Two people who answered said they did not know who my contact person was.  “We have no knowledge of a foreclosure sale,” onesaid. Round and round we go.

Can you help? CONRAD REVAK

Naples, Fla.

A. First, the Haggler would like to point out that this is the first mortgage-related question ever posted in this space. That seems crazy, given that millions of Americans have been complaining for years that their bank won’t return calls or has mishandled paperwork, entered incorrect data and so on. Mortgages surely have caused more consumer heartburn than anything else since the housing crisis began.

But for some reason, only a handful of people have ever thought the Haggler could help. And the other cases were either too convoluted or were resolved before interventions could be made.

So you think the Haggler can’t handle a mortgage? Phooey. If you’ve got a good, clear case and can summarize it in less than 300 words, do share.

In this instance, the Haggler wrote to Bank of America, which resolved the entire problem in about a day and a half. The details here are that Mr. Revak — or more specifically, his lawyer — asked a court to grant what is called a deed-in-lieu, a financial instrument that lets a borrower give the title of a property to a bank, bypassing the standard and more arduous foreclosure proceeding.

A spokeswoman at Bank of America, Jumana Bauwens, said the wheels were grinding slowly in Mr. Revak’s case because his deed-in-lieu approach was unusual, and the “bank’s legal team felt they needed to do some more research to ensure that we wouldn’t have title issues when we sold the property in the future.”

O.K., but what’s up with the Bank of America’s phone system, which runs customers from one dead end to another? Might the company want to rethink that issue?

The Haggler tried to get the spokeswoman to say anything about this subject, but with no success. Which is maddening. How about just telling the Haggler that it’s working on the phone problem, or wants to, or is really bummed that it hasn’t already? Anything would be better than ignoring the issue.

As for Mr. Revak, he wrote to say that Bank of America got in touch by phone with a whole new and far more helpful attitude. Apologies were offered, and a promise was made that the bank would contact the credit scoring agencies and correct the record.

If Bank of America follows through with that promise, Mr. Revak wrote, “I will consider the case closed. The big unanswered question, though, is how many Americans are taking a hit on their credit score for no reason?”

E-mail: Keep it brief and family-friendly, include your hometown and go easy on the caps-lock key. Letters may be edited for clarity and length.

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IHT Rendezvous: Ask About the Greek Elections

Greeks will return to the polls on Sunday, June 17, amid growing doubts about the euro’s viability in its current form, worries that Greece won’t be able pay its bills next month, and rising speculation about how the country would go about leaving the euro and starting to print its own currency.

As one politician put it in a television debate between extreme right and left politicians that dissolved into a physical altercation on Thursday, Greece is facing more than an economic crisis, it is facing “a crisis of democracy.” (Ilias Kasidiaris of the far-right Golden Dawn party, who threw water at and slapped his opponents is reportedly being sought by police.)

Last month’s election brought Mr. Kasidiaris and other extreme politicians into Parliament, but ended in a stalemate when no party was able to form a government. Politicians on the extremes who opposed the terms of Greece’s €130 bailout won more votes than the center-right and center-left parties that have dominated Greek politics for decades and had back the deal.

As the world waits to see how Greek votes, in an election that has been called a referendum on Greece remaining in the euro, what do you want to know about Greece and the vote?

Leave your questions in the comments area below and Niki Kitsantonis will answer them in a future post on Rendezvous.

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App Smart: Some New Little Treasures for the iPhone

FLIPBOARD For the last year, iPhone users could only watch as iPad owners used Flipboard to deliver beautified versions of Facebook, Twitter and other graphically challenged online services. Earlier this month, though, Flipboard delivered a long-awaited free iPhone version, which has quelled any doubts that it would live up to the standard of the big-screen version. Flipboard is fast, slick and smart. The Twitter app’s scrolling feature may be faster, but I find myself clicking through to more information about Twitter posts when I view them on Flipboard, and it’s great to flip quickly to other feeds in the same app.

BAND OF THE DAY If you live in a radio wasteland and you don’t want to pay a lot to Slacker and Pandora to hear new music without ads, Band of the Day (free) is a great choice. The app daily features five songs from a new band, along with artist bios, videos and reviews. You can listen to each song five times, and if you don’t love one day’s selection you can scan backward through the calendar to find others you missed or tune into the day’s mix tape.

TIGER WOODS: MY SWING This is the year’s best entry for athletic types. This app isn’t even for avid golfers as much as it’s suited to beginners. As long as you know how to grip a club and you understand the basic elements of a golf stroke, My Swing ($5) can help you avoid a hack-fest on your next trip around a course. After you use the device to record your swing, the software overlays graphics onto the video to show how well your stroke conforms to the specifications of Mr. Woods. His tutorials, though brief, are highly useful.

SKYVIEW This is the new leader among iPhone astronomy apps — at least for the money. SkyView ($2) features a dead simple interface with just the right amount of cool features to keep casual stargazers enthralled. Point your phone at the sky, and the app transforms the camera view into a labeled map of the heavens. The graphics are lovely, and you can click for more information on various planets and stars, or, with the sweep of a finger, learn when they will be in a particular spot in the sky. The free version is also good, but it offers just a glimpse of the paid version’s extended features.

GOOGLE TRANSLATE Google offered a gift to Apple owners this year when it released a slightly pared-down version of its stellar Translate app for Android. Like that version, the Google Translate for the iPhone (free) quickly translates your spoken phrases into text, and for 24 languages, Google Translate will speak the new phrase in a foreign tongue. The spoken-phrases-to-text feature works for 17 languages, so you can hand your phone back and forth for more extended conversations. To save on overseas data charges when Wi-Fi is not available, you can store translated phrases, like ones explaining to others how to use the app.

VIDRHYTHM This is ridiculously fun, foolproof software. VidRhythm (free) guides you through the process of recording a few sound and video samples, and then drops those fragments into one of roughly 15 music video templates. The random scrambling of your samples, set to rhythm, is a bit of musical and humor brilliance, and will appeal to people capable of laughing at themselves. The app includes pitch-correction technology, so the tonally challenged needn’t fear the results. You can export videos to Facebook or YouTube, or import original music and let VidRhythm twist your tunes.

DRAGON GO People who have an iPod Touch or older iPhone and are tired of hearing about Siri from iPhone 4S owners can find relief with this genius little app. Touch a button and tell Dragon Go! (free) what you need, and it scans the Web for results. Say “great sushi” or “great plumbers,” and it’ll suggest nearby restaurants and contractors. You can sort results quickly, so if you just want a Wikipedia entry or a YouTube video, a flick of the thumb will get you there. Dragon Go! won’t speak cute answers to your cute questions, but as a productivity tool, it’s a winner.

WUNDERLIST Awesome Note is in the iPhone App Hall of Fame for good reason, but it offers more features than many people need, and it costs $4. For a simple, elegant and free app that’ll help you build to-do lists and send reminders to all your devices, Wunderlist (free) is ideal. The app makes it easy to set up a task list and prioritize and organize items. The layout is clean and attractive, and the app has intelligent flourishes, including a feature that lets users add tasks through e-mail.

GARAGEBAND Apple’s desktop version of GarageBand has long been a standby for hobbyists and professionals, but the mobile version ($5) is better suited to the masses. Instead of clicking through a drum track or a bass line, you can tap on the device’s glass as if it were the real instrument. Tracks are easily built and tweaked, so you can peck away at a musical idea for months or sketch something in a matter of minutes. Using an external device like the Apogee Jam or the GuitarJack, guitarists can plug their instrument into the iPhone and add layers of stomp-box sound.

PHOTOSYNTH This extremely cool panorama technology from Microsoft is highly refined and a breeze to use. Stand in place and point the phone’s camera straight ahead, and Photosynth (free) snaps a picture. It then prompts you to drift in different directions and to stop when it detects the next photo in the panorama sequence. The app takes a minute or two to process the shot, but when it’s done, you have an amazing photo that you can rotate in any direction, enlarge and share as you would any iPhone image.

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European Shares Bounce, Led by Banks

London’s blue chip index was up 56.66 points, or 1.2 percent, at 5,001.10 by 8:51 a.m., having shed more than 3 percent over the past two trading days and tracking sharp gains overnight in the U.S, but off an early day-high of 5,072.68.

“Gains look fragile to say the least. We’ve already seen 60 points come off the index since the open. Investors remained to be convinced that Bernanke’s words or the euro zone action will be enough,” Jimmy Yates, head of equities at CMC Markets, said.

Ben Bernanke’s testimony before Congress gave traders hope of further stimulus as he stated he was ready to do more to sustain U.S. economic growth but tempered expectations by saying there were no immediate plans for a third round of quantitative easing (QE3).

Those words prompted an early bout of short covering in beaten down sectors such as mining, which has lost more than third of its value so far this year, on hopes any extra stimulus would reignite growth and demand in the sector.

Banks, down 32 percent in 2011, rallied too, also helped by European finance ministers agreeing on Tuesday to safeguard their lenders as doubts grew about whether a planned second bailout package for debt-laden Greece would go ahead.

That came just hours after French-Belgian municipal lender Dexia SA became the first European bank to have to be bailed out due to the euro zone’s sovereign debt crisis.

Barclays, whose share fell sharply on Tuesday on euro zone debt concerns and downbeat updates from European peers Deutsche Bank and UBS, rose 5.7 percent.

But Deutsche Bank analyst Jim Reid said it is likely the market will be looking for more action.

“My gut feel is that the European situation still might need to get worse to provoke the type of response the market really wants but such a day is no doubt getting closer.”

Focus will now switch to a meeting of the European Central Bank governing body on Thursday where Goldman Sachs said it expects additional non-conventional measures to be introduced.

“Further liquidity measures would show that the ECB has temporarily abandoned its policy of reducing bank dependence on its funding,” the broker said

“Practically, banks do not have other options and we expect usage to increase sharply. We view this as necessary.”

UBS analysts said the Bank of England looks likely to relaunch its QE programme in the coming weeks, focussed on Gilt purchases, but remained concerned that it shows a lack of understanding of the challenges facing consumers.

“Monetary policy is loose in terms of policy rates but very tight for real-world borrowers – because of regulatory actions.”


The squeeze on credit is affecting domestic consumers and that has been reflected in recent updates from London-listed companies like Wolseley and Tesco.

Top retailer Tesco Plc fell 1.6 percent on Wednesday as it posted one of its biggest-ever falls in underlying sales, while rival J Sainsbury Plc reported only modest growth.

The anaemic macro backdrop has forced corporations to look further afield to underpin profits. Despite its fall in underlying sales, Tesco was able to post a 3.7 percent rise in first-half profit as overseas growth, particularly in Asia where profit rose 19 percent, helped offset domestic woes.

Luxury goods group Burberry, which has big exposure in Asia and has recently hit by concerns over a slowdown in China, rallied 2.4 percent.

Mid-cap British youth fashion retailer SuperGroup, however, slumped 23 percent after it said full-year profit would be hit by problems with a new warehouse management system that has left its shops short of its trademark T-shirts.

On the macroeconomic front, UK September Markit/CIPS services PMI data is due at 9:28 a.m., and the final estimate of UK second-quarter GDP is scheduled for release at 9:30 a.m.

Ex-dividend factors took 0.68 point off the FTSE 100 index on Wednesday, with British Land, Inmarsat, Kingfisher and Weir Group all trading without their dividend attractions.

(Editing by Erica Billingham)

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Bucks: Wednesday Reading: Tiny Trash Cans Can Boost Recycling

July 13

Wednesday Reading: Tiny Trash Cans Can Boost Recycling

Tiny trash cans can boost recycling, doubts about the value of toning exercise shoes, touring pistachio country in Turkey and other consumer-focused news from The New York Times.

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Research In Motion Eyes a Rebound

WATERLOO, Ontario — In a rare interview last week, Mike Lazaridis, one of Research In Motion’s two chief executives, was the one asking questions:

“Why is it that people don’t appreciate our profits? Why is it that people don’t appreciate our growth? Why is it that people don’t appreciate the fact that we spent the last four years going global? Why is it that people don’t appreciate that we have 500 carriers in 170 countries with products in almost 30 languages?”

He wrapped up with “I don’t fully understand why there’s this negative sentiment, and I just don’t have the time to battle it. Because in the end, what I’ve learned is you’ve just got to prove it over and over and over.”

Mr. Lazaridis can point to numbers that back up his frustrated defense of R.I.M., maker of the BlackBerry, the phone of choice in the White House and a global totem of connectedness. During its last fiscal year, the company, which is based here, shipped a record 52.3 million phones — a 43 percent increase over the previous year — and its fourth-quarter income of $924 million exceeded forecasts.

Nevertheless, as R.I.M. prepares to introduce its first tablet computer on April 19, doubts about its future have arguably never been greater.

Some analysts suggest that R.I.M. has lost its momentum and may now be heading downward, much like Palm, which in better days was expected to rub out the then-fledgling R.I.M. Current BlackBerrys are hobbled with an aging operating system, and the company’s market growth last year seems less impressive when contrasted with Apple’s 93 percent rise in iPhone shipments.

In a world where applications have become a major selling point for mobile devices, the number of apps available for BlackBerry phones is in the tens of thousands, compared with the hundreds of thousands for Android and Apple devices. BlackBerrys are still prized for their e-mail capabilities, particularly among government and corporate customers who rely on the devices’ tight security. But it is increasingly common to find people who carry a BlackBerry for e-mail and an iPhone for everything else.

That has led several analysts and investors to question R.I.M.’s ability to hold its own in a market dominated by devices running Google’s Android software, as well as iPhones and iPads. “They’ve been caught flat-footed,” said Jean-Louis Gassée, a former Apple executive, the former chairman of Palm’s software spinoff and a partner at Allegis Capital in Palo Alto, Calif. “They’ve built a tremendous company; they are people with distinguished backgrounds. They are not idiots, but they’ve behaved like idiots.”

Jim Balsillie, R.I.M.’s other chief executive, vigorously rejected suggestions that R.I.M. was ill-prepared for the changes in its markets. But he acknowledged that if it had moved earlier to introduce its tablet, the BlackBerry PlayBook, it could have improved perceptions of the company. And he agreed with critics on one thing: Many companies will struggle to adapt as the industry makes the huge shift to a world of powerful mobile computers.

“No other technology company other than Apple has successfully transitioned their platform,” Mr. Balsillie said in an interview. “It’s almost never done, and it’s way harder than you realize. This transition is where tech companies go to die.”

Mr. Balsillie says the PlayBook will show that R.I.M. has joined Apple in making that move. The tablet is important in part because it will be running R.I.M.’s first all-new operating system since the introduction of the BlackBerry over a decade ago. That software will also be on new phones that the company will release in the coming months.

Richard Tse, an analyst with Cormark Securities in Toronto, said the new operating system might prove to be as pivotal to R.I.M.’s future as Apple’s decision to bring back Steven P. Jobs in 1996 and to base its future technology on software he developed at NeXT Computer.

The other historical lesson comes from Palm, the hand-held computing pioneer, which failed to build up enough momentum for its new operating system and had to put itself up for sale. Hewlett-Packard bought it two years ago and is trying to revive the software in its own tablet due later this year, called the TouchPad.

R.I.M.’s equivalent to NeXT is another Canadian company, QNX Software Systems, which it acquired a year ago. It specializes in highly reliable operating systems that are used, among other things, to control systems in automobiles and airplanes as well as nuclear reactors.

Jenna Wortham contributed reporting from New York.

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