Xiaomi spends $3.6 million on new two-letter domain

The Chinese company's pricey new site is part of a rebranding exercise as it goes global.

Aloysius Low/CNET

With plans to sell its Redmi and Mi3 handsets in 10 new markets, Chinese company Xiaomi is also rebranding its name for a global audience. Xiaomi's global boss Hugo Barra recently tweeted that the company's website will now be, instead of the previous domain.

While it seems like a simple change, the move has set the phone-maker back a hefty $3.6 million, according to the China Daily. It's the most expensive domain purchase of the year, Quartz notes, with the next highest -- -- costing $3.1 million.

Part of the reasoning behind the change is simple -- non-native Chinese speakers tend to have trouble pronouncing the "xiao" part of the name, often getting their tongues twisted. Most will wrongly pronounce it as "shaow", but the actual pronunciation is closer to "she-ow."

Keeping it to a simple "mi" makes it easy for everyone, especially when the "mi" branding is readily seen among products such as the Redmi, MIUI and its new range of wireless routers, the Mi Wi-Fi.

The most expensive domain name of all time is, which reportedly went for $35 million in 2007. is only third on the list, at $13 million in 2010, having failed to top's $16 million price tag.