Answer: Only a select few, who were promptly laughed at.
In regards to sales, it just didn't seem feasible that the PlayStation 3 would ever catch up to and surpass the Nintendo Wii and the Xbox 360. Early on in this generation, some haters went so far as to say the PS3 was dead in the water, and the Wii sprinted out to what seemed to be an insurmountable lead.
But as I've been saying this entire generation, the Wii was just a fad and fads operate on a limited time budget. Lo and behold, five years and a horde of shovelware later, you have trouble giving away the Wii, and now that the Wii U is here, Wii sales are bound to keep tailing off. It has topped 100 million, I believe, while the PS3 and 360 sit at about 75 million each worldwide. So it's more than possible that the PS3 will emerge on top when all is said and done.
Don't forget, the PS2 sold a huge number of consoles after the PS3 came out and this time around, you'll very likely see the same thing when the PS4 arrives. The price of the PS3 will drop again, accessibility will be high, and the library will be gigantic. You should see far more PS3 sales worldwide after the PS4 comes out when compared to Xbox 360 sales after the new Xbox hits (although that's just a guess). And as the PS3 essentially outsold the 360 this generation already – 75 million sales in just over 6 years as opposed to 75 million in over 7 years – the trend will likely continue. Although I have no doubt the Xbox will still rule in North America.
But anyway, I'm just wondering where all those skeptics are who flooded forums and communities around the 'Net, saying the PS3 wouldn't only be in dead last this generation, it'd be so far behind you wouldn't even be able to see it. …mm-hm. What say you now, haters?