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Twitter leaves no doubt: It's a mobile-first company

Striving to avoid the kind of early criticism Facebook endured, the company is upfront about its progress on the mobile front in its IPO filing.

James Martin/CNET

Twitter isn't shy about touting its mobile prowess.

In its IPO filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday, the microblogging company pulled back the curtain on its operations to show off a business that not only has a healthy presence in the mobile arena, but also is actually intimately tied to it.

"Mobile has become the primary driver of our business," Twitter said in its filing.

The filing made it fairly clear to anyone who cared to pore through the 200-plus page document that Twitter is a company that puts mobile at the forefront (referencing mobile 130 times), leaving no doubt where its growth opportunity will come from.

In doing so, Twitter is avoiding some of the shrapnel that fell on Facebook when it released its own IPO filing. When Facebook filed to go public, many questions remained about its ability to generate revenue from its mobile business. While Facebook has largely answered those concerns in recent quarters, it endured a rough few early months.

Twitter didn't make the same mistake. Of its 218.3 million monthly active users, Twitter said 75 percent accessed its service through a mobile device. That's up from 66 percent from a year ago. The company said its most engaged users access Twitter through a mobile app.

Mobile's the big money maker too. The company said 65 percent of its advertising revenue came from mobile, and cited the introduction of its "Promoted Products" ad service to iOS and Android in February 2012 as a key driver of advertising opportunities.

Twitter touted its ability to utilize a mobile device's location to deliver targeted advertised tweets, tapping into the holy grail of relevant advertising. It also touted the introduction of its #Music service as well as its video-clip service Vine, both of which are mobile apps.

Twitter even talked up the 140-character limit, which was based on the company's origins as an SMS-based communication tool.

Twitter, however, did acknowledge that it generates less revenue per timeline view for mobile applications than it does for its desktop counterpart, largely because promoted tweets aren't as prominently displayed on a smartphone app. Because the growth in mobile is occurring faster than on the desktop, the company warned that one of its key metrics -- revenue per 1,000 timeline view -- would fall even as total revenue increases.

Twitter posted 80 cents per 1,000 timeline views in the three months ended June 30, compared with 64 cents from a year ago.

As a result, there will likely still be questions about how it keeps that metric rising and how the company can better take advantage of its strong presence in the area.

It's clear from the IPO filing that it's likely something Twitter is obsessing about too.