I understand you want to focus your attention. I understand that after pulling all the resources off of Google Reader to work on Google+ you can no longer maintain it properly.
But why not integrate it into Google+? Instead of following a person, or a brand, allow people to follow websites. Allow the readers to comment on the articles, so websites could build some kind of community around their content (you may want to make this optional). Even better, provide a simple API for websites to pull these comments into the website!
You could build such a great replacement, and at the same time further promote Google+. But instead you just ax the whole thing without any replacement.
Even more integration
While on the subject of integration, you have two other assets that are just begging to be integrated into Google+: Blogger and Google Groups.
With all the whitespace here on Google+, you have been promoting long-form posts from the start. Unfortunately, these posts tend to get lost after a while. Why not assimilate Blogger, add a “Circle” for it, and create a “Blog” out of all the posts shared to that circle.
And finally Google Groups. You claim to have an archive of over 20 years, more than 700 million Usenet posting. Furthermore, there are countless active mailing lists on Google Groups. Now that you’ve introduced Communities on Google+, why not integrate them with this massive archive and vibrant user-base.
Posted from Beijing, Beijing, China.