Channel marketing in the tech industry is not really all that new -- unless you compare it to car dealerships. I often refer to the network of automotive "channel partners" when speaking about how the intermediated sales model works. The next few years in the automotive sales and marketing business are going to be very interesting as the marketplace gets more fragmented and cars gain more technology. It was pretty hard to miss Ford at CES this year!
Tech has had a hand in automotive sales peripherally for a few years now. Every time a car was considered or not considered on the basis of iPod integration -- Apple had a very large impact on auto sales.
Todd Bishop has posted a good article in TechFlash on some technology companies from the Pacific Northwest that are leading the way in this convergence of the auto and tech businesses. It is only a matter of time before the sales and marketing elements of these industries also start to blend together.