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blackberryz10BlackBerry said this morning that a special committee of its board will “explore strategic alternatives,” and anyone who has heard that phrase before knows what’s on the table.

“These alternatives could include, among others, possible joint ventures, strategic partnerships or alliances, a sale of the Company or other possible transactions,” the company says.

It’s another sign of BlackBerry’s struggles, the dominance of Android, and the strength of the iPhone in the smartphone market. It’s also more evidence that Microsoft’s Windows Phone will be the one playing the role of No. 3 behind the Google and Android platforms.

BGR points out that the company would have received initial sales figures from its new Q5 keyboard-based smartphone at the end of July. The site notes, “It is quite likely that these early Q5 figures were so scary they pushed BlackBerry into the radical decision of publicly announcing it may need a buyer.”

BlackBerry has been here before, hiring bankers last year to consider a possible sale.

One problem is that there isn’t a clear-cut buyer for the company, at least not in its current form. Larry Dignan writes on ZDNet this morning, “Some companies would want BlackBerry’s mobile device management and enterprise business—Samsung and Microsoft perhaps. Others would just want the intellectual property (Google, Microsoft, Apple). And a few like Lenovo may take bigger chunks of the company to make a North American play.”

The patent scenario could be an interesting one for Microsoft, whose mobile revenue has been boosted significantly by its patent licensing deals with Android device makers. But the lack of operating system compatibility with BlackBerry would make an outright acquisition by Microsoft a bit of a stretch.

Even with the move to explore strategic alternatives, BlackBerry makes it clear that it’s not preparing to sell the company off piecemeal, saying the purpose of the exercise is “to enhance value and increase scale in order to accelerate BlackBerry 10 deployment.”

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