June 6, 2015 by ...
Xiaomi pronounced like ‘shao mee’ made a pretty big blunder in naming is firm. Lei Jun had originally wanted to call his company ‘Red Star’ in homage to Mao’ist ideology and ideology.
‘From Red Star to ‘Guns and Rice’
Unfortunately for Lei Jun, the name Red Star was taken, he would just have to settle for something else.
This did not take long as they then decided on ‘Xiaomi’ which according to President Lin Bin, was about revolution and hearkened back to the use of that term in the Sino-Japanese war. At that time ‘Xiaomi’ was used to describe ‘millet and rifles’ or food and guns used to support the communist cause. (小米加步枪)
As it turns out, calling his brainchild Xiaomi was better than a name which readily calls up images of conflict
Returning to naming however, we see the gravity of Jun’s mistake. How do westerners pronounce ‘Xiaomi’, after all? Is the ‘x’ pronounced like the ‘z’ in Xerox? Or is like ‘x’ in ‘x-ray’?
The answer is, none of the above. In Chinese ‘x’ can be pronounced like ‘sh’ as in the case of Xiaomi, or ‘ci’ as is the case with communist capo Xi Jinping.
Of course no one wants to learn a fireign language just to buy a phone, so. Xiaomi needs a naming reset.
Here are great examples of companies which did just that:
Toshiba (Tokyo-Shibaura Denki)
Canon (Seikikōgaku kenkyūsho)
Nikon (Nippon Kōgaku Tōkyō K.K.)
KIA (Kyungsung Precision Industry)