Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi - often called the Apple of China - has spent $3.6 million (£2m) to purchase as it eyes international expansion. will replace the company's previous homepage of as the Chinese electronics giant looks to begin its move into the international market.

According to China Daily, the company spent $3.6 million to buy the two-letter domain from an unknown owner. The huge figure for the diminutive domain is believed to be the biggest sum spent on any web address in 2014 so far, with the next highest being the $3.1m purchase of

The move to the new domain looks like a wider company move away from the Xiaomi name to the simpler Mi branding. The thinking behind the move is likely the difficulty some people outside of China would have pronouncing Xiaomi (shao-mi).

The move makes a lot sense on a lot of levels, as having a strong and recognisable brand name is almost as important these days as having good products.

The company's website has virtually no mention of Xiaomi at all, with all product dropping the Xiao- prefix and using the much simpler Mi brand - such as the RedMi and Mi3 smartphones, Mi TV and Mi Box.

The Apple of China

Xiaomi has been in existence for just over three years and in that time has been constantly compared to Apple, thanks to its chairman and CEO, Lei Jun carefully cultivating a Steve Jobs image - after he read a book about the iconic Apple founder in college.

As well as adopting a lot of Apple's marketing techniques, Jun also dresses like his idol by wearing jeans and dark shirts.

Xiaomi became China's biggest smartphone seller in December of last year, overtaking Samsung for the first time with 21% market share - and it now plans on building on that success internationally.

The company announced plans earlier this year to begin selling its smartphones in markets outside of China for the first time, including Brazil, Thailand, Mexico and Russia.


Xiaomi is hoping its low-cost but cutting-edge smartphones will be able to compete with the likes of Samsung as well as Chinese compatriots ZTE and Huawei at the mid-to-lower end of the market.

Xiaomi Mi3
Xiaomi\'s Mi3 smartphone Xiaomi

The company's phones use a heavily forked version of Android called MIUI and the company last year recruited former head of Android at Google, Hugo Barra, to head up its international growth.

The smartphone maker is also attracting a lot of attention from some high profile figures within the industry with co-founder of Apple Steve Wozniak visiting the company's headquarters last January and saying:

"Xiaomi has excellent products. They're good enough to break the American market."