You know your company has a bad reputation when the general public interprets an official announcement as something so improbable that it could only be an April Fools’ gag.

Japanese mobile provider SoftBank — perhaps most famous for its commercials featuring a talking shiba inu and his human family — announced via its website earlier today that it now officially has the best network coverage in Japan, enabling its users to connect with greater ease than any other mobile phone provider. Alas, the statement was immediately laughed off as a joke by many Japanese Internet users, with cries of “Oh, SoftBank, you guys have a great sense of humour!”

In years previous, for many users SoftBank’s name was synonymous with phrases like “bad reception” and “no signal”, especially for those living outside of Japan’s larger cities. When the iPhone first arrived on Japan’s shores, despite its sleek curves and dozens of tempting features, many mobile phone users were wary of switching to SoftBank — then the only network supporting the phone — purely because, to quote a Japanese friend of mine, “it means choosing between apps or signal…”, and this writer even noted that when picking up his new iPhone 3G, the phone wavered between “no service” and a single bar of reception even while still inside the SoftBank store.

Thankfully, SoftBank has steadily improved its game and its network now spans most of Japan. In fact, according to data released on its official website, SoftBank is now the “easiest to connect to” network in the entire country.

“That’s unexpected, right?” the company’s website remarks after making the declaration on its front page. Well, for some mobile phone users, the idea was so “unexpected” that it seemed more like a joke:

– “This is the best April fool of the year for me!”

– “SoftBank, that’s genius!”

– “Wait, is this an April fool?” 

– “SoftBank’s kidding around this year too!”

– “Haha! SoftBank said they have the best reception in the entire country. Awesome!”

Although at first we thought that this may simply be a case of  a few disgruntled mobile phone users employing a large dose of sarcasm, judging by reactions online there are plenty of people who are either unsure of how to interpret the announcement, or who genuinely believe that SoftBank’s most recent statement is testament to the company’s great sense of humour and ability to realise its own faults.

Poor old SoftBank. It really is number one, you know…
[ Read in Japanese ]