Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi rebrands itself as Mi, expands to 10 new markets

Xiaomi, the Chinese hardware maker, is planning to expand to 10 new countries, according to comments made at a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday. The countries Xiaomi is targeting are mostly developing nations, and the list includes India, Brazil, and Russia. Previously, Xiaomi only offered its products in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan.
Xiaomi is best known for producing the Mi3 smartphone, a technologically competitive Android handset that retails for under half the price of Apple’s iPhone(s AAPL). Although Xiaomi only started producing smartphones in 2011, it sold 19 million phones in 2013, and currently is the market share king in China, beating out industry giants Samsung and Apple.
Most of those sales come through Xiaomi’s website, which sells directly to consumers in China. In addition to smartphones, Xiaomi also sells televisions, routers, a TV set-top box and smartphone accessories. At the press conference Wednesday, it announced two new routers.
In addition to the planned international push, Xiaomi also reportedly paid a record-setting amount for the web address Mi is not only the prefix used for Xiaomi’s line of smartphones, but also is the first two letters in its Android-based operating system, MIUI. Presumably, Xiaomi paid $3.6 million dollars for a domain name because it will be easier to find and remember for non-native Chinese speakers. In fact, Xiaomi may be rebranding itself as Mi: there are no mentions of Xiaomi anywhere on the homepage except for a copyright notice.
While American consumers may not be familiar with Xiaomi because it does not sell its products in the United States, the New York Times compared the company to Apple last year, and it recently raised hundreds of millions of dollars in funding in a deal that reportedly valued it at $10 billion.