Customized portals like iGoogle really represented a sort of first step toward the highly personalized experience most us have online now due to the influence of social media. It seems almost quaint to rely on self-selection when you can use the hive-mind of your network to help deliver content to your stream. And with Google's push toward an all-encompassing social-driven Web experience, it's no surprise they decided to ax the service.
Answering a question on Quora, Brian Shih, a former Google Reader product manager, suggested that Reader was the victim of Google's quest to move into the social media market with various products -- including Google+. And leveraging how users already depend on Google products by integrating services into one login, Google is finding ways to get people engaged in that endeavor: They claim 300 million users "active in the Google+ stream" per month. But those users aren't all people who are actively visiting Google+, it counts anyone who might incidentally involve themselves by clicking the red notification bell in or using a widget from another site.
This integration isn't an accident: Google+ is not just a service meant to compete for a place in the social media market, it's a way for the company to create cohesive identities for users across all its services, including search, Gmail and YouTube, that can be used for improved ad targeting. But, like Reader, iGoogle didn't quite fit into that broadly interconnected vision of the Web that Google+ represents. And now it's dead.