Russian internet group Mail.ru has paid $1.47bn to acquire the 48 per cent of social media website VKontakte that it does not already own, ending a battle for ownership of Russia’s equivalent to Facebook. Read more

Sarah Mishkin

Payments start-up Square is raising at least $100m in a funding round that valued the group at $6bn, up from a $5bn valuation earlier this year, according to a new company filing.

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At a conference this April, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, got chatting to Cherie Blair, a lawyer and philanthropist who is the wife of former British prime minister Tony Blair.

Fast forward five months, and the pair are now unveiling Facebook’s first partnership to promote entrepreneurship, among women who run businesses in the developing world. “I think this is the way women work – we wanted to see if we could cooperate to use Facebook and its technology to help women,” Mrs Blair said in a conversation with the FT.

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Buried under the avalanche of Apple announcements this week was the one that got the mobile operators pretty excited: an innovation that lets people use a WiFi connection rather than mobile signal to make calls.

On the face of it – like much of Apple’s news – it seems an old idea, with various services already on offer that allow people to make calls using WiFi. Three, the smallest UK mobile group, launched a service called InTouch this summer, while Telefonica’s O2 has offered TuGo for some time.

But, again like many of the advances unveiled this week, it is just being done better by the Cupertino-based technology group. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

The design of Apple’s Watch draws on the heritage of the iPod and iPhone but wears its history lightly. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Expectations are high as Apple prepares for its biggest event since the launch of the iPad four years ago. At the Flint Center in its Cupertino backyard, Apple is expected to unveil not just new iPhones but a push into payments and wearable devices. Tim Bradshaw and Richard Waters bring live updates from the event, with input and insights from other FT reporters around the world.  

Will the expected launch of a new iPhone later today – and perhaps an “iWatch” – give a boost to Apple’s share price or trigger a decline? Read more

Which is better value: Netflix or the BBC?

Some TV viewers – especially younger ones – seem to think the answer is Netflix. It has cool new shows, including House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. And a subscription costs UK viewers roughly half as much as the BBC – £6.99 a month, compared to the BBC’s licence fee, which works out at £12 a month.

But the BBC wants to knock down the Netflix-mania, at least when it comes to drama. Read more

Sarah Mishkin

Paypal will soon start to enable merchants on its payments processing network to accept bitcoin, a sign of the growing acceptance and maturation of the volatile digital currency sometimes derided as magic internet money.

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Tim Bradshaw

Apple has sent invites out to members of the media for a September 9 launch event at which it is expected to unveil new iPhones and potentially a new wearable device.

The looming launch of what pundits have dubbed the iWatch will make this Apple’s most closely watched event since Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad in 2010. Read more

The clock’s ticking on the launch of Apple’s “iWatch” – expected on September 9 – and its Korean rivals are coming out ahead of time with their latest takes on wearable technology. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

The Kickstarter community has funded many innovations in the past few years.

The Pebble smartwatch raised $10.3m in 2012, shooting the starting gun on the wearables trend that Apple is about to leap into. The Oculus Rift virtual reality headset raised $2.4m, only to be acquired by Facebook for $2bn two years later. SmartThings raised $1.2m for its first connected-home kit before being snapped up by Samsung. New ideas like Hello’s Sense sleep-monitoring device just keep coming.

But one crowd-funded gadget this week emerged to trump them all. After two years at the top, Pebble has lost its crown as the most-funded Kickstarter of all time. And it has lost it to… a freezer boxRead more

Hannah Kuchler

Instagram takes pride in being more than just a corner of Facebook. The pretty photo-sharing app that Facebook bought in 2012 has maintained much of its independence while picking and choosing from the strategies that have served Facebook well.

Now, with the launch of super-fast video app Hyperlapse, it is becoming clear that Instagram will follow in Facebook’s lead and create its own suite of apps, or as it is becoming known in social media world, a multi-app strategy. Read more

If you thought flying a Flappy Bird was fiendish, just wait until you try swooping Swing Copters. So say new addicts of the latest free app from cult Vietnamese developer Dong Nguyen, who this week overcame his famous revulsion at his previous creation to release what looks like another hit.

Droves of instant Swing Copters devotees took to Twitter Friday to bemoan how guiding the propeller-headed hero through a landscape of deadly swinging obstacles was even closer to impossible than navigating Flappy Bird’s famously exasperating arrays of killer pipesRead more

Rocket Internet, the Berlin-based investor in e-commerce companies, is continuing to expand its roster of stakeholders, as its valuation grows past €4bn ahead of an expected IPO later this year. Read more

Lower prices and upgrades by businesses have lifted the global notebook PC market out of a seven-quarter slump. Read more

By Jonathan Soble and Lindsay Whipp

OK, so you know selfies are a thing – who doesn’t? But what about encasing that selfie-taking mobile phone in a case shaped like a Chanel perfume bottle?

Meet the Smelfie (Perfume + Selfie) – a thing, apparently, among women in China. And it hasn’t escaped the notice of product designers at Sony. Read more

By Matthew Garrahan, FT global media editor

Thomas Lesinski, the former head of digital production at Paramount Pictures, has launched a new company to produce content for television and online channels, striking a deal with Legendary Entertainment, which will have first option to release its programming. Read more

Hannah Kuchler

amazon kindle fireAmazon founder Jeff Bezos is among the new investors in Lookout, a San Francisco-based mobile security company that just pulled in the largest fundraising by a cyber security company so far this year.

As Amazon promised to be “relentless” in its pursuit of selling everything, Bezos appears to being equally eager to make personal investments in almost every industry. Here are some – but not all – of the investments he has made through his vehicle Bezos Expeditions.

Media: Bezos’ most high profile recent investment was his purchase of the Washington Post, the DC-based newspaper renowned for its role in breaking the news of the Watergate scandal. But he has fingers in other media pies too: in 2013, he took a stake in Business Insider, the loud mouthed financial news site fond of slideshows, and back in 2008 he invested in Twitter, the social media site beloved by journalists. He also has investments in Vessel, a video platform, and Next Door, a social network for neighbours. Read more

Venezuela might have the mannequins with the world’s biggest breasts, but Britain now has the most tech-savvy models gracing its store windows and shop floors.

This week three UK retailers launched the world’s first mannequins embedded with so-called iBeacons – little Bluetooth transmitters that can send alerts to smartphones in the vicinity, offering details about the clothes such as how to buy them online and where to find them in store. Read more