At the time, a lot of respected companies tried their have at the lucrative gaming industry. NEC, Phillips, JVC, etc. Sony just felt like another one of those.
At the same time, a lot of factors hurt Nintendo. The "Ultra 64" arrived almost two years later than expected and launched with a whopping TWO games. Nintendo had a history of abusing 3rd parties and forcing censorship so many companies just wanted an alternative.
Still, as a child of the 90s that consumed every bit of gaming info I could get my hands on, there's no doubt in mind that Nintendo would have won. It wasn't until there were severe software droughts that the N64 began to falter. And even then, the lack of storage space just meant that the N64 version of every game was just going to be missing content.
Maybe you could compare polygons and textures (and even then, the N64 was missing a lot of details and looked blurry) but when the PS1 version of a game was running newfangled CGI FMV and the N64 version had a stagnant screen shot. PS1 had CD quality music while N64 games had 20 second looping songs. It's obvious which version of any given game was more impressive.
The day I saw Tekken 2 running on a PS1 and saw that full motion video intro was the day I jumped ship. Before that, I was a fan of Nintendo and Nintendo only.
Let's be honest. A much more powerful console at a lower price with games that didn't cost $60-$80 when the competition was selling software from $9-$40. A history of excellence and third party support? N64 would have been unstoppable. Instead, it became the console I sold after a year (bought one again two years later, though.).